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Orthopedics

Healthy Bones Ward Off Osteoporosis

Healthy Bones Ward Off Osteoporosis Like a construction site, human bone cells are constantly breaking down and rebuilding themselves.

Most of the time, the process runs smoothly, but when there is an imbalance in the system, the result can be osteoporosis.

“Osteoporosis can be caused by too much breakdown or inadequate new bone growth,” says orthopedic surgeon, Francesca Swartz, D.O.

There are three different types of osteoporosis:

  1. The most common type occurs in postmenopausal women and is related to altered estrogen metabolism.
  2. Senile osteoporosis occurs in both men and women older than age 75.
  3. Some medical conditions cause changes in bone metabolism that result in osteoporosis, including:

  • Diseases that affect hormone metabolism or endocrine disorders, like Cushing’s disease
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition diseases that affect calcium and vitamin D absorption
  • Inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid or lupus
  • Kidney disease
  • Diseases that affect bone marrow, like leukemia, sickle cell or multiple myeloma

“Risk factors for osteoporosis are classified as ‘modifiable’ and ‘nonmodifiable,’” Dr. Swartz says. “Risk factors that we can control include excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, malnutrition, vitamin D deficiency, physical inactivity and low body weight. There are risk factors that are outside of our control. They include age, menopause, European or Asian ancestry, family history and small stature.”

Certain medications also may be related to the loss of bone density. “Steroids are a common cause of osteoporosis,” Dr. Swartz says. “Other medications with links to osteoporosis are anti-seizure medications, blood thinners, medications to treat heartburn, lithium and some diabetes medications.”

Patients who develop osteoporosis have several treatment options. Medications can help restore normal bone metabolism. “This can actually increase bone density and reverse osteoporosis,” Dr. Swartz says. “There is no specific medication that is ‘the best’ for treating osteoporosis. Some are pills and others are injectable. There are potential side effects from these medications, so patients need to consult with their physician to determine the option that is best for them.”

The best medication of all is prevention. “Prevention is the key for osteoporosis,” Dr. Swartz says. “Weight-bearing exercises, like walking, aerobics or resistance exercises are important for preventing thinning of our bones. Avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco is important. Ensuring a balanced diet is also key. Supplementation with calcium and vitamin D will provide the building blocks to make new bone. Estrogen can be an option for postmenopausal women.”

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“Risk factors that we can control include excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, malnutrition, vitamin D deficiency, physical inactivity and low body weight. There are risk factors that are outside of our control. They include age, menopause, European or Asian ancestry, family history and small stature,” Dr. Swartz says.


Osteoporosis Shot

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Francesca Swartz, D.O.
Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida
13691 Metro Parkway, Suite 400
Fort Myers, FL 33912
239-768-5549

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