Osteoporosis, a condition which causes bones to become weak and susceptible to breaks, affects over 10 million Americans and contributes to an estimated 1.5 million bone fractures every year. The condition, which affects half of all women older than 65, and one in five men, was the topic of a seminar sponsored by the ONS Foundation for Clinical Research and Education on Tuesday night at ONS on Valley Drive. Orthopedic surgeon Steven Hindman, MD, Endocrinologist Judith Goldberg Berman, MD and Physical Therapist Betsy Kreuter, PT spoke before a group of 40 about bone anatomy, personal risk factors and the latest treatments for osteoporosis.
After defining osteoporosis, Dr. Goldberg-Berman’s talked about how the condition is diagnosed and the variety of ways it is treated. She said a bone density test is the best method currently available for diagnosing bone loss, however there are other indicators to consider, and in some cases, just the incidence of a spinal compression fracture is an indication of osteoporosis. Although she believes that each patient needs to be assessed individually, she said that ingesting sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D are extremely important to maintain good bone health. Once a positive diagnosis has been made, treatment may vary from patient to patient depending on age, medical history and lifestyle considerations. “Bisphosphonates like Fosamax and Boniva have been in the press a lot recently. Some studies have shown there are associated risks, but in many cases there are other studies that dispute those findings,” says Goldberg-Berman. “For some women, estrogen is an effective bone builder even though there are risks that make it not a good option for others. Medication, diet and exercise should all be considered when treating this potentially serious condition.”
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Hindman emphasized the fact that half of all women and a quarter of all men over 50 will suffer a fracture from osteoporosis. “Hip fractures are potentially the most dangerous and still carry a 20% morbidity rate,” he says. “Fractures in the elderly can have dire consequences but in truth, the risk for getting osteoporosis may be determined when you’re in your 20s and 30s, when the rate of bone growth slows significantly.” He added, “Osteoporotic fractures result in 432,000 hospital admissions, 2.5 million office visits, and 180,000 nursing home admissions annually. In 2005 osteoporotic fractures cost $17 billion and are expected to triple by 2040.” Although the facts are striking, both doctors agree that early diagnosis and treatment of the condition can prevent fractures. “Take care of your bones so you don’t end up in my office,” said Dr. Hindman.
A proper exercise program can also have a positive impact on your bone health. Physical therapist Betsy Kreuter spoke to the group about the importance of maintaining good balance and posture. She also demonstrated several Thera-Band (elastic band) exercises that help stretch muscles in the arms and chest and strengthen upper back muscles which help support proper posture. A question and answer period followed the presentations.
Due to the popularity of Tuesday night’s seminar, the program will be repeated in the spring. For information about this and other seminars related to orthopedics, sports medicine and neurosurgery, visit www.ons-foundation.org.