Information Screening Osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a chronic condition that causes brittle bones that are easily broken. Although associated with elderly women, osteoporosis affects people of all ages and both genders. Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, as reported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (2009). An additional 34 million people have low bone mass, a condition that may lead to osteoporosis.

Since osteoporosis is asymptomatic in its early stages, health screening for osteoporosis is extremely important.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means “porous bones.” Healthy bones are comprised of strengthening agents such as protein, collagen and calcium. Osteoporosis causes these agents to break down, resulting in porous bone that is susceptible to cracking and collapsing from even minor trauma. Osteoporosis-related fractures often occur in the wrist, ribs, spine and hips.

Osteoporosis eventually causes symptoms, including back pain, loss of height, fractures and a stooped posture, although these symptoms typically don’t appear until its late stages. People in high-risk categories for osteoporosis should seek out a medical screening test so the condition is detected as early as possible.

Who is at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Some people have a higher risk for developing osteoporosis than others. Common risk factors include:

  • Being a postmenopausal female
  • Cortisone therapy (prednisone, steroids, etc.)
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Fractures since age 50
  • Height loss since age 25
  • Ingesting less than 1,000 mg of calcium per day
  • Lack of weight-bearing exercise in daily routine
  • Smoking or a long history of smoking
  • Thyroid replacement therapy.

Women are at especially high risk for bone loss and osteoporosis. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (2009) reports that approximately 80 percent of people with osteoporosis are women.

How Does Osteoporosis Screening Work?

During osteoporosis health screening, a technician measures your bone density using ultrasound technology on your heel; the heel and hip are rather similar in structure.

When you arrive at the health-screening facility for this quick, painless procedure, you’ll remove your shoe and sock from one foot and place your heel into a device called a bone densitometer. After the technician measures your bone density, you’ll receive your results and discuss them with your doctor, along with treatment options, if necessary.

Preventing Osteoporosis

You can take steps to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. Eat a diet high in calcium and Vitamin D. Calcium-rich foods include:

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Canned salmon
  • Dairy products
  • Kale
  • Sardines
  • Soy products
  • Spinach.

Vitamin D is synthesized naturally from exposure to sunlight. If you don’t get enough sunlight, however, you can get extra Vitamin D from egg yolks or oily fish, such as tuna and salmon. Regular exercise also helps promote bone strength. In addition, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, which inhibits the body’s absorption of calcium.

Resources

LifeLine Screening (n.d.). Osteoporosis screening. Retrieved August 30, 2010, from http://www.lifelinescreening.com/health-screening-services/osteoporosis.aspx.

Mayo Clinic (2009). Osteoporosis. Retrieved August 30, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis/DS00128.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2009). Facts about osteoporosis. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp.

Shiel, W. (2009). Osteoporosis. Retrieved August 30, 2010, from http://www.medicinenet.com/osteoporosis/article.htm.