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Champlain Valley Orthopedics
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Middlebury, VT 05753
I'm a little embarrassed to say this but my doctor told me I have osteoporosis and I don't really know what that is. She explained it to me but I was so shocked that there was anything wrong, I don't think it sunk in. Could you give me a simple explanation to start? I'll go to the library and get some more information later after I digest this.You have asked a very good question and one that others may wonder about, too. What exactly is osteoporosis? Simply stated, it is decreased bone density. But that still might not mean anything to you. Does the phrase brittle bones
help? Because that is quite literally what osteoporosis is.
To understand this a bit more from a biologic point of view, consider that bone strength comes from two things: bone density and bone quality. Bone density refers to how many bone cells are present in a square inch. That measure also reflects how close together the bone cells are.
But density isn't the only component of bone strength. There's also bone quality. Bone quality reflects the health of the bone cells present. Quality of the collagen cells that make up bone, thickness of the bone, and architecture of the bone all make up this entity we call bone quality. Bone quality reflects the condition of the supportive structure of bone.
Bone loss occurs in a predictable fashion with aging. Women are affected more often before men around the time of menopause
when the menstrual cycle stops and the woman can no longer get pregnant or give birth to children. A significant reduction in the hormone estrogen at that time contributes to the development of osteoporosis.
But men are also affected -- about 10 years later than women as age-related changes cause microarchitectural deterioration. In both men and women, the bone becomes fragile. Fractures can occur without trauma or injury. These are called fragility fractures
. The risk of fracture, loss of independence, and even death associated with osteoporosis is what makes the prevention of this condition so important. It's not just quantity of life; it's also quality of life that's at stake.
It's a good idea to get educated now about this condition. The library is a good place to start. You can also go to the National Osteoporosis Foundation's (NOF) website (www.nof.org) for more information. Stay in regular contact with your physician. You may need to be monitored to make sure you are getting the results you need. Nonresponse
is a fancy way to say you are still losing bone, in danger of fracture, or already had a fracture despite treatment.
(cooperation, following recommended suggestions) with treatment is an important way to ensure success. Lack of compliance is often a hidden risk factor. If you are doing everything you've been told to do to stop bone loss but the DXA scan shows continued progression of the disease, then your physician will do some more testing to see if there's some other reason for the problem. Most people are very successful in turning around the negative effects of osteoporosis and prevent fractures that can be so devastating.Susan B. Broy, MD, and Amanda Kay Myers, MD. Identifying and Managing Osteoporosis: An Update. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine
. January 2010. Vol. 27. No. 1. Pp. 11-19.
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