What is Osteoporosis?
As people grow older, they experience some degree of bone loss. The difference between bone loss between the natural aging process and bone loss due to other factors such as postmenopausal hormone depletion can be quite significant. After approximately age 30, we all lost bone at the rate of 0.5-1.0% per year. Around the time of menopause, the rate of loss can be as much as 3-5% per year with a total upwards of 20% of bony skeleton loss in a matter of four to five years. Obviously, such a rate of loss can lead to significant reduction in bone strength and a high incidence of serious fractures.
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects 20-25 million Americans, and by 2020, it is expected to affect 50 million of our population. Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease because it is asymptomatic until a fracture occurs. Fortunately today, there are a number of treatment modalities that can slow or alter the course of the disease and in many instances actually rebuild bone.
It has been estimated that yearly over a million and a half women in the United States will suffer bony fractures related to postmenopausal osteoporosis. The most common fractures occur in the spine, wrist and hip. For women with significant osteoporosis, crushed fractures of the spine may occur during normal daily activities such as lifting, bending, getting up from a chair, coughing, or even aggressive hugging. Spinal fractures can be quite painful and of course lead to deformity of the spine and a significant loss of height. Hip fractures are a somewhat less common event in postmenopausal osteoporosis, but they certainly are the most critical from the standpoint of survivability and dramatic lifestyle changes. Approximately 24% of hip fracture subjects do not survive over a year. Another third never leave the nursing home or rehabilitation facility, and only a third ever regain full functional capabilities.
Living with Osteoporosis
In addition to taking your medication, calcium and vitamin D intake should be adequate. There are other activities that you can carry out to slow down the loss of bone mass. These include dietary changes which will increase calcium and vitamin D intake, and exercising routines which can increase the stress across the bones, stimulating them to remodel and increase their strength. You should check with your physician before beginning any particular exercise routine or making any significant dietary changes.
Below is a list of calcium rich foods which if incorporated into the diet can give the approximate amounts listed. The total daily calcium intake should approximate 1,500 mg.
- Skim milk 8 oz. 300 mg Ca
- Yogurt 8 oz. 400-450 mg Ca
- Cheese 1 oz. 150-250 mg Ca
- Ice Cream 1/2 cup 100 mg Ca
- Salmon, canned 2 oz. 125 mg Ca
- Sardines, canned 2 oz. 200 mg Ca
- Tofu 1/2 cup 250 mg Ca
- Broccoli 1/2 cup 100 mg Ca
- Collards 1/2 cup 175 mg CA
Are there any new medications available?
A number of medications are available today for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. For the direct treatment of the condition there are Fosamax® Alendronate Sodium Tablets, Miacalcin® (calcitonin-salmon) Nasal Spray, estrogens, other bisphosphonates, and particularly in males, testosterone. For the prevention of osteoporosis in selected cases, there areavailable estrogens, Alendronate, Raloxifene, and certain other bisphosphanates. In particular situations, some individuals who cannot tolerate estrogens are able to tolerate phyto-estrogens most commonly found in soy.