Osteoporosis Screening and Treatment
Osteoporosis is a common condition that affects people as they grow older. The early symptoms of osteoporosis can be subtle, like a loss of height or a stooped posture. Many times, osteoporosis has no symptoms, until you have a fracture. If you believe that you may be at risk of osteoporosis, or have already experienced symptoms, visit one of Vanguard Medical Group’s ten locations in Northern and Central New Jersey to find out if you are a candidate to be screened for this condition.
What is Osteoporosis?
As you age, it becomes harder for your body to replace bone tissue, and your bones can become brittle over time. When the rate of new bone tissue creation cannot match the rate of deterioration, osteoporosis occurs. For a while, you may not notice any difference, but over time, the effects of weakened bones will show. This can result in fragile bones that break easily, loss of height and a stooped posture. Bone fractures are common in the wrists, spine and hips of people with osteoporosis. In general, older people are especially susceptible to this condition, and it is more common in women.
Since osteoporosis gradually affects your body over time, you may not notice any issues until you experience a broken bone. To help ensure early detection, it’s essential to schedule regular screenings with your doctor. A bone density test can help determine if you are at risk for fractures. These tests are completed with a bone densitometer that uses X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones. Bone density will be determined by the level of these low-energy X-ray beams that pass through the bone in question. A routine bone density scan is recommended for all women starting at age 65, and younger with certain risk factors. Men who are at risk for osteoporosis should have a bone density scan as well.
Treatment of Osteoporosis
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are several different options your doctor may suggest to reduce your risk of complications and prevent further bone loss. These treatments include:
- Medication: Your doctor may prescribe you pills that either slow the process of bone breakdown or actually rebuild bone, with the ultimate goal of preventing fractures. This medication can be taken weekly or monthly.
- Exercise: Activities that improve your balance, posture, and mobility, like Tai Chi or yoga, can help you decrease your likeliness of falls, which are a major cause of broken bones. Weight bearing exercises, like dancing, aerobics, hiking, and weight lifting, can help strengthen your bones, and thus reduce the chance of a fracture.
- Nutrition: Healthy diets that include plenty of calcium and vitamin D will help your bones stay strong. Many people are vitamin D deficient and require a vitamin supplement to help strengthen their bones.
- Smoking Cessation: Smoking causes bone loss to occur faster, so eliminating tobacco use can slow the progress of osteoporosis.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive drinking should be avoided. Eliminating alcohol use altogether or drinking in moderation, which means up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women, can help minimize your risk of osteoporosis.
If you do not have osteoporosis, adopting these habits will help limit the chance that you develop the condition in the future and minimize the need for medication. They also will lead to a healthier lifestyle in general.
If you are in the Northern or Central New Jersey region and believe that you may be at risk for osteoporosis, request an appointment with Vanguard Medical Group. We provide services for individuals most affected by this condition, including women and seniors, making us well equipped to handle your screening and treatment. Our experienced staff in Emerson, Denville, Glen Ridge, Verona, North Haledon, Lincoln Park, Jersey City, Cranford and Randolph, NJ will work with you to provide the most effective plan to limit your risk.