What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a common disease affecting more than 3 million people per year in the United States. Described as a condition in which the bones become weakened, brittle and easily fractured, it most often occurs when the growth of new bone can’t keep up with the replacement of old bone. In fact, by age 35, the bone density of most individuals has already begun to decrease and will continue to do so as the years progress. The medical term for this progression is known as osteoporosis.
Typically older, post-menopausal women are at the highest risk for this condition, although it can affect any gender. This happens because bone density begins to decrease as we age and continues as the patient becomes older, causing bones to become much weaker than before. Additionally, as people age, bone mass is lost notably faster than it is created. Osteoporosis typically isn’t discovered until a bone is fractured, though as many as half of all women and a quarter of all men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to this condition.
As a result, repeated fractures are almost guaranteed and the ability to live an active, healthy life decreases significantly when suffering from osteoporosis. However, through proper treatment and prompt care, it is possible to lessen the intensity of this condition and to prevent painful recurrent fractures.
While there are no specific causes of osteoporosis, whether or not a patient will develop it depends largely on the amount of bone mass they accumulated in their youth. A general rule of thumb is that the higher your peak bone mass was (typically reached in the early 20’s), then the lower your chances are for sustaining osteoporosis as you age.
In addition to age, there are several risk factors that may spur, accelerate or encourage the development of osteoporosis, such as:
- General wear and tear to the body throughout many years of use
- Having a small, thin build and/or low body weight
- Genetic predisposition or family history of osteoporosis
- Gender – Women are far more likely to develop osteoporosis
- Ethnicity – Caucasian and Asian women are statistically most at risk for experiencing osteoporosis
- Osteopenia, a condition in which a patient has low bone density
- Lack of exercise, calcium and Vitamin D
- Lowered estrogen levels, often seen in menopause and certain cancer treatments
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Celiac disease
- Kidney or liver complications
- Previous fractures
- Rheumatoid arthritis
If you believe you may be at risk for experiencing osteoporosis later in life, please schedule a consultation at one of our convenient spine centers to discover which preventative measures best suit your needs and lifestyle. All middle-aged and older individuals should strongly consider undergoing a bone mineral density (BMD) screening test, which is a quick and painless procedure designed to determine the likelihood that a patient will contract osteoporosis. Through proactive care, it is possible to delay osteoporosis and minimize its severity as much as possible.
In osteoporosis, usually there are no symptoms until a bone break or fracture occurs. These fractures occur most commonly in the hip, wrist or spine. Your doctor may request X-rays and a bone mineral density test (if not already taken) to check your body’s bone mass and general health, and can then make a conclusive diagnosis as to whether or not you have osteoporosis. Some of the hallmark signs of a vertebral fracture include:
- Radiating back pain that may be traced to a specific injurious event or may have no known cause
- Discomfort that worsens with movement
Fragility fractures are the most prominent symptoms of osteoporosis and may occur while an individual is doing something remarkably low-impact, such as stepping off a curb. Men and women encountering osteoporosis may also begin to notice:
- Chronic backaches
- Frequent soreness
- Poor posture, visibly sloping shoulders or curves in the back
- Loss of height
- A protruding abdomen
- Aching joints
- Trouble comfortably performing everyday activities
- An accelerated pulse when at rest, typically over 80 beats per minute
To avoid repeated fractures and further complications, it is important to diagnose osteoporosis as soon as possible. By meeting with a spinal expert at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, you can take the first step in identifying and treating the underlying cause of your pain, weakness and other aggravating symptoms.
Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach
During your appointment with Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, we will review your MRI, C.T. scan, X-rays and bone mineral density test results. Through personalized attention and innovative treatments, our skilled team of spine experts is committed to helping you maintain and improve your quality of life as you face osteoporosis. After your initial consultation, we can build a customized treatment plan that is based on the severity of the osteoporosis, any additional health issues or risk factors and your own personal goals. We always recommend first trying a combination of conservative treatments to alleviate your symptoms, such as:
- Medical branch blocks, in which anesthetic provides relief to tissues near facet joints in the spine
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Dietary changes, including a significant increase in calcium and Vitamin D
- Osteoporosis medications, if the patient is considered highly at risk of another fracture
- Physical therapy and other guided exercises designed to improve flexibility, strength and endurance
- Spinal decompression therapy
- Therapeutic massage
Though it is rare, minimally invasive surgery may be recommended in certain cases, such as if bone spurs are present or the nerves in and around the spinal column are being compressed. While the exact surgical intervention recommended depends on the individual patient, we have performed state-of-the-art MIS Endoscopic DLIF/OLIF (lumbar fusion) procedures for many clients suffering from severe osteoporosis.
If minimally invasive surgery is recommended, our premier spine centers offers some of the most advanced techniques available today. These laparoscopic procedures feature many additional benefits when compared to traditional open surgery, including:
- Small incisions
- Less blood loss and scarring
- Minimal trauma to surrounding muscles and tissue
- Quicker recovery times, including the ability to return to work and other daily activities sooner
- Faster pain relief
Through surgical intervention, our spine experts can stabilize the spine and correct any leftover damage from previous osteoporosis fractures. For more information about osteoporosis or other conditions that Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® treats, contact us directly by calling 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on this page. We look forward to helping you feel better, faster!