I-PATH Home
 
I-PATH Student PortalRequires login: I-Path Students Only
 
I-PATH CHNA Portal
 
I-PATH Population Health Portal
Precision Pain Care Home Page
I-Path logo
Student Digital Media Presentations on Population Health
Health Education Webinar Videos
Public Health
Presentations Coming Soon
General Health Information Library
About Our Students
Health Information Library
Osteoporosis
Student Health Information Page compiled by: Patricia Hoen Flint

Anyone can benefit from learning about osteoporosis, but you should read this page if you are: a female over the age of 65, physically inactive, small in body size, and/or have a low calcium intake. Here are some frequently asked questions about osteoporosis and information on where to get help if you think you may have osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis makes it easy for bones to break. For example, osteoporosis can cause people to break a bone when they sneeze or cough. The bones are weak because the body does not make new bone as fast as the old bone dies. This causes bones to become thin and brittle. Most people who have osteoporosis are women over the age of 50, but anyone can have osteoporosis.

How do I know if I have osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is also called “the silent disease” because there are not usually any symptoms. Later, signs of osteoporosis may be shrinking height, back pain, bad posture or breaking a bone easier than expected. However, you will not know if you have osteoporosis until your doctor tests you for it.

When should I see a doctor about osteoporosis?

  • If you are over the age of 50 and experiencing signs of osteoporosis, you should talk to your doctor about taking a bone density test. The test should be completed as soon as possible. Catching osteoporosis early can help stop your bones from getting thinner.
  • If you are a white woman under the age of 50, post-menopausal or have a history of osteoporosis in your family, you should also talk to your doctor about having a bone density test.
  • If you are anyone under the age of 50 and experiencing signs of osteoporosis, you should talk to your doctor about your concerns. This can be done at your next annual physical.
  • You should also have a bone density test if you are a woman over the age of 65. This is recommended for all women.

A bone density test is painless and only takes 15 minutes. It is like getting an x-ray when you have a broken bone. Your doctor will probably test your hip or heel of your foot to see how thick it is.

Treatment

There is no cure for osteoporosis, but there are things that you can do to stop osteoporosis from getting worse. Usually osteoporosis is treated with medication. Osteoporosis can also be treated with physical therapy, exercise and lifestyle changes.
  • Medication - Depending on your age, gender and how thin your bones have become, your doctor will probably put you on some kind of medication. Medication will help stop your bones from getting thinner. There are several types of medicine that you can take for osteoporosis. Ask your doctor which medicine is best for you and your lifestyle.
  • Physical Therapy/Exercise - You can treat osteoporosis with physical therapy and exercise. This will help the muscles and tendons around the bones become stronger, which supports the bone. Balance can also become better with physical therapy and exercise. This is important because people with osteoporosis can become easily hurt if they fall.
  • Lifestyle Change - If you smoke or drink heavily, you should cut back because this is bad for your bones. Starting to eat healthy foods with lots of Vitamin D and calcium will help your bones to get stronger.

Long-term Care

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, most doctors want you to come back for a bone density test every 1 – 2 years. This is so they can make sure that your treatment is working.

You may also have pain that you have to deal with. Unless you have certain other health problems, you can take medication like Tylenol or aspirin to manage your pain. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe you stronger pain medication during times of greater pain.

Resources and Support

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF)
If you need any more information about osteoporosis, The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is a good source for Americans living with osteoporosis. They offer the following:

Other Resources