What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass (bone density) and deterioration of the microstructure of bone (decreased bone quality). These changes lead to bone fragility and an increased risk of fractures at multiple body sites. Both women and men are affected by osteoporosis, a disease that can be prevented and treated. Bone quality is not evaluated on a DXA scan.
Our Bone Health Services
- Osteoporosis Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment
- Osteopenia Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment
- Fall Risk Assessment and Training
- Comprehensive Fracture Education
- In-House DEXA Scan
- Breaking the Fragility Cycle
- Healing Acceleration
- Fracture Prevention
- Lifestyle Evaluation
- Healthy Living Recommendations
Ready to Improve Your Bone Health?
Why does osteoporosis happen?
First, osteoclasts and osteoblasts function at varying rates throughout our lives. As children, adolescents, and young adults, our osteoblasts are functioning at a greater rate and this results in increasing bone density. This process is called bone modeling. Somewhere around the age of 25, we reach peak bone mass, which is the time where we have the most bone we will have in our lifetime. After this, osteoclast activity and osteoblast activity even out, and after about the age of 30, osteoclast activity becomes greater. From then on, women and men both lose bone mass. The amount of bone that people have later in life is somewhat dependent on the amount of bone they had at peak bone mass.
Menopause also causes significant bone loss in women. Estrogen is very protective for bone (it inhibits osteoclasts and promotes development of osteoblasts). When women go through menopause, estrogen levels drop and women start losing bone at a greater rate. Some studies show that women can lose up to 20% of their bone within the first 7 years of menopause.
In addition, bone quality decreases with age. Theoretically, if a person could keep the same bone density all his or her life, the risk of breaking a bone approximately doubles every 10 years after the age of 50. While some of this increasing risk is associated with higher risk of falls, much of this is due to structural changes in bone, or bone quality.
Other factors contribute to significant bone loss and bone quality changes, including genetics, certain medical conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes), certain medications (such as glucocorticoids and some seizure medications), history of eating disorders, smoking, and excessive alcohol use.
Interventions recommended for osteoporosis work by restoring the balance between osteoclasts and osteoblasts. For example, weight bearing exercise is recommended because it can increase osteoblast formation to which can improve bone mass by increasing bone formation. Medications for osteoporosis also work by restoring this balance: by either stimulating osteoblast activity to build new bone (medications called anabolics) or by slowing down bone loss (called anti-resorptives).
You may benefit from an osteoporosis or bone health consult if you:
- Have broken a bone
- Are a postmenopausal woman
- Are a man with low testosterone
- Are over 50
- Have a family history of osteoporosis
- Have low bone mineral density (BMD)
- Have used steroid (glucocorticoid) medication for a long time