If you’re one of over 50% of all women over 50, you may be at risk of developing osteoporosis. Here at OrthoSouth of Memphis and the Tri-State area, we understand how disturbing that news can be.
For many women, there is a link between menopause and the onset of osteoporosis. This is perfectly natural; at least one in every two women experiencing menopause will also develop some degree of osteoporosis.
But what is osteoporosis? And what are its links to menopause? What can you do to keep your bones healthy during menopause?
Your experts at OrthoSouth are here to help! Read on to learn more.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a serious condition that affects a significant number of postmenopausal women. As the bones lose density due to hormonal fluctuations associated with menopause, this can lead to fractures, decreased mobility, and even loss of life in severe cases.
Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent bone loss and maintain good bone health. There’s no reason why menopause needs to slow you down due to osteoporosis. Let’s learn a little more about the condition itself below.
During menopause and the postmenopausal period, it’s possible to experience up to 20% bone density loss, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Chances are, if you suffer from osteoporosis, you may experience a fracture at some point. This can cause pain and lead to decreased mobility and quality of life. As important as it is to understand the risks of osteoporosis, it’s equally important to know that there are effective preventative measures available to you, as well as treatments that can help lessen the severity of the disease and regain bone density.
The Role of Menopause in Osteoporosis
Since a significant reduction in estrogen levels characterizes menopause, it comes with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. But why is this? Well, estrogen plays a critical role in regulating the bones’ metabolism. This means that when estrogen levels drop during menopause, bones become structurally weak and more likely to fracture or break. This occurs because bone resorption (the process by which bones are broken down and reabsorbed into the body) can outpace the rate at which the body produces new bone.
Consequently, hormone therapy is an option that can help prevent bone loss and stimulate new bone formation. However, the use of hormone therapy should be evaluated on an individual basis, and it is not suitable for everyone. Luckily, the experts at OrthoSouth are dedicated specialists who are perfectly equipped to determine whether hormone therapy is right for you.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoporosis
If you are over 65, even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms related to osteoporosis, you should receive routine screenings. A DEXA test can measure your bone density and calculate a T-score (number of units your bone density is above or below the average for a healthy adult). Then, a Fracture Risk Assessment (FRAX) test can provide a probability score for fracture by using the results of the DEXA test. This is important in determining whether you suffer from or are at risk of developing osteoporosis or related complications.
A list of drug and hormone therapies that are often used to prevent further bone loss and stimulate new bone formation includes:
Additionally, estrogen therapy is a common and effective treatment for those at risk of or experiencing osteoporosis. This makes sense, as estrogen is the primary regulator of bone metabolism in the body.
Lifestyle Changes for Good Bone Health
Medical treatment can be an important preventative or therapeutic step regarding bone loss in menopausal or postmenopausal women. In addition to medical treatments, another important step can be developing or maintaining positive lifestyle habits. There are a number of great lifestyle changes that can improve bone health, as well as promote overall health and well-being. Developing a customized exercise regimen, eating foods rich in vitamin D and calcium, exposure to sunshine, weight management, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can help maintain good bone health and play a vital role in preventing or treating osteoporosis.
Like estrogen, Vitamin D and calcium also play a vital role in maintaining good bone health. Vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium, which is important for building strong and healthy bones. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, your body won’t absorb calcium even if you have enough in your diet. It’s essential to include a balanced diet that includes vitamin D and calcium-rich foods and going outside to get enough sunshine to trigger vitamin D production. Many women suffering from osteoporosis choose to employ a UV LED lamp, also known as a sunlamp or lightbox, to supplement the amount of vitamin D they receive.
Call Today to Take Charge of Your Health
Here at OrthoSouth, we’re proud to offer the highest degree of orthopedic care and are committed to creating a holistic service experience for patients in the Mid-South region. Every specialist in our practice combines a high degree of technical proficiency with the empathy that is important in providing our patients with everything they need for success.
By combining onsite physical therapy with occupational rehabilitation services, advanced digital imaging, regenerative medicine, joint replacement and many other services as part of our orthopedic patient care program at eight clinic locations and two surgery centers, we’re working to keep the midsouth happy and healthy.
Call us today to learn more, or book an appointment online to meet with one of our highly-trained doctors.