Osteoporosis is a chronic, progressive condition characterized by continuing bone loss. It can affect anyone, but it’s most common in white or Asian women who are past menopause. Fortunately, you can deal with this condition effectively with the right lifestyle changes and treatments.
Throughout your life, your body is always making new bone, and old bone is always breaking down. However, as you age, the rate of new bone production slows down. When new bone isn’t being produced fast enough to make up for bone loss, the bones become weaker and more likely to break.
In its earlier stages, osteoporosis may not cause any symptoms. However, as the disorder continues, you may notice:
To diagnose osteoporosis, Dr. Ohanian will measure your bone density using a special machine. This machine uses low levels of X-rays to measure the proportion of minerals in the bones. The test is painless and poses very few risks for the patient. In most cases, Dr. Ohanian will check only a few bones during this test.
If you have osteoporosis, you may need medication to prevent further bone loss. One of the most common treatments prescribed to patients with osteoporosis is bisphosphonate therapy. However, some patients who are at risk of osteoporosis or have already been diagnosed with this condition may take hormone replacement therapy instead.
Both bisphosphonate therapy and hormone replacement therapy can cause side effects and complications. For example, bisphosphonate therapy may cause nausea and other gastrointestinal problems, while hormone replacement therapy may cause blood clots. Both medications raise the risk of certain serious complications when they’re used for long periods of time.
Because treatment for osteoporosis can be risky, it’s important to discuss all of these issues with Dr. Ohanian in detail before you begin treatment. In some cases, patients may choose to work on modifying risk factors for fractures instead of taking medications. Dr. Ohanian can explain the risks and benefits of each option so you can make the right choice.