Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, S.C
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Osteoporosis

The young body is developing in a number of ways, one of which is the accumulation of new bone. In our youth, the body produces new bone faster than existing bone breaks down. As we age, this process reverses, and the body's production of new bone can no longer keep up with the breakdown of existing bone. The result of this breakdown is osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is the condition in which the loss of bone tissue leads to brittleness and fragility in the various bones of the body. Bone tissue is porous. If viewed under a microscope, tiny tunnels like honeycomb can be seen. When these tunnels become exceedingly large, a person is diagnosed with osteoporosis. The concern with this diagnosis is that there is a marked increase in the risk for fractured or broken bones due to minor accidents.

The more severe the condition, the more easily a fracture may occur. The most commonly affected areas include the spine, wrist, and hip. In addition to fractures, osteoporosis can also cause the bones in the spine, the vertebrae, to wear down. The result of this spinal degeneration is a stooped or hunched posture and chronic pain.

Both men and women may develop osteoporosis. Women, however, are at the greatest risk, especially the post-menopausal woman. The primary reason that women may be more susceptible to this condition is the association with decreased sex hormones, namely estrogen. Over-activity in the thyroid gland may also increase a person's risk. In addition to certain biochemical factors, there are several aspects of a person's lifestyle that may increase or decrease their chances of losing valuable bone density.

Osteopenia is an intermediate level with just minor loss. Measurement of bone density in the hip and spine can be used to screen for these conditions with a painless DEXA machine.

Treating osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is not a condition for which there is a cure. Our goal in treating is first to take preventive measures. The physicians at Northwestern Women's Health Associates, S.C. get to know their individual patients. By familiarizing ourselves with a patient's health history, we are better able to assess the risk factors for osteoporosis well before this condition can cause problems.

Women, in particular, can benefit from making sure their diet or supplement program contains sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D. If the vitamin D level is low, prescription for a high dosage may be recommended for a short time. The higher vitamin D level is, the better the body can absorb calcium.

Treatment for osteoporosis may also include specific medication designed to achieve stronger, healthier bones. The prescription for medication is carefully tailored to the individual based on the amount of bone loss, age, and other factors.

Osteoporosis can be a serious problem. Don't wait for this condition to affect your quality of life. Contact Northwestern Women's Health Associates, S.C. for your bone density assessment today.

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