If you were to wager a guess, what do you think is the hardest part of my day? Is it keeping up with all of the latest osteoporosis research? Is it finding time to treat countless patients in the office? Perhaps it is even balancing a career, family life, and a website? These are all good guesses, but they are wrong! The hardest part of my day is convincing others that they should care about their bones and osteoporosis as much as I do!
Now I’ll admit that on the surface, bones might not seem like the most interesting topic. Bones rarely require even a fleeting thought when they are doing their job properly. However, working in orthopedics has given me a front row seat to witness what happens when bones fail. If you could spend a day in my shoes, I think that you would have a newfound respect for your underappreciated bones!
It is both a blessing and a curse that osteoporosis does not cause any physical symptoms. Nobody would wish disabling pain on the 44 million men and women in the US who have low bone density (osteopenia) and osteoporosis. But wouldn’t it be extremely helpful if you had SOME sort of indicator that your bones were becoming weak so that you could seek treatment? My goal is to identify those who are high risk BEFORE they break a bone, but without any obvious indicators, how is this done? The answer is simple but the task is tough… I have to convince others to care about their bones as much as I do, even when their bones may be feeling just fine!
So why should you care about your bones?
Osteoporosis is common.
- 33% of women and 20% of men will sustain an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime
- Each year, osteoporosis causes approximately 8.9 million fractures worldwide
Osteoporosis is dangerous.
- Osteoporosis can lead to painful fractures, permanent disability, loss of independence, and in some instances it can even increase your risk for death
- Following a hip fracture, 20-24% of people will die within one year, another 20% of people will require permanent placement in a nursing home, and 66% of people will not return to the level of function they enjoyed prior to the injury
Osteoporosis is treatable.
- Osteoporosis treatments, including weight bearing exercise, whole body vibration, and nutritional supplements have been shown to slow the progression of the disease, and even improve bone density
- Osteoporosis medications have been shown to reduce the risk of breaking bones by an average of 50%, and upwards of 90% in some instances
While I may not be able to convince you to care about your bones as much as I do, I hope that I can at least convince you to take the initiative to improve your bone health. Talk to your medical provider about osteoporosis screening. Seek the answers to your questions and take control of your bone health!