Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disease. It’s hallmarks are low bone mass and deterioration of the micro architecture of bone. People who suffer with the osteoporosis are more susceptible to fractures. Bone mass usually peaks between the ages of 30 to 35 and declines steadily thereafter. Loss of bone mass in women is accelerated after menopause. Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis as are men.
In the United States each year there are over 250,000 hip fractures, more than 250,000 wrist fractures and over 700,000 spinal fractures. Most of these are attributed to osteoporosis. Of all the individuals who suffer a hip fracture, approximately one half will be permanently disabled, almost 20% will require long term nursing care and up to 24% will die within one year after their hip fracture. In fact, hip fractures are responsible for approximately 65,000 deaths per year in the United States alone. The cost of fractures in the U. S. Healthcare System is staggering. Fractures account for 13.8 billion dollars per year, more than the cost for congestive heart failure or asthma. As the average age of the American population continues to increase, so will the cost related to low bone mass (osteoporosis) and concomitant fractures. In fact, it is predicted that the cost will double over the next 30 years.
DESCRIPTION OF OSTEOPOROSIS
Bone is constantly being resorbed and replaced with new bone. This dynamic process is called remodeling. This is necessary for normal development and maintenance of a healthy skeleton.
In young adults, bone is removed by osteoclasts (bone removing cells). This bone is completely replaced by osteoblasts (bone producing cells). Women after menopause have an accelerated bone loss. The osteoclasts create a larger number of cavities which cannot be completely refilled by the osteoblasts. Therefore, the amount of bone mass in the skeleton decreases and the skeleton becomes weak, therefore making a patient with osteoporosis more susceptible to fractures.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR OSTEOPOROSIS
All women over the age of 50 are at risk for osteoporosis. In fact, one study from the osteoporosis registry showed that 34% of women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. The same study showed 51% of women in their 60’s have osteoporosis, 72% women in their 70’s have osteoporosis and 83% of women in their 80’s suffer from the disease of osteoporosis.
Another study involving osteoporosis showed only 5% of patients with osteoporosis were correctly diagnosed and treated, 5% of patients were diagnosed with osteoporosis but were not getting treatment, 12% of the patients had classic signs and symptoms of osteoporosis but were not being treated. The same study showed approximately 78% of patients who were at risk for osteoporosis were not properly diagnosed.
Here at South Carolina Sports Medicine, we have incorporated the state of art DEXA machine (dual/energy x-ray absorptiometry) which is the most accurate and precise method of detecting osteoporosis today.
If you have any questions or would like to have a bone density scan, please call our phone number 572-2663 (572-BONE) and push extension 2406.
Bone loss leads to an increased risk of fracture that is magnified by other aging-associated changes. Osteoporosis is preventable and treatable, but because there are no warning signs until a fracture occurs, many people are not being diagnosed in time to receive effective therapy during the early phase of the disease.