Osteoporosis (porous bones) is a disease in which the bones become thin, or less solid and thus weaker. Thus they are more likely to break (fracture).
The main causes of osteoporosis are aging, heredity (family history), nutrition and lifestyle, medications, and other illnesses.
A gradual loss of bone mass generally begins at age 30-35. This is a fact of life for everyone, but more so for women than men. Factors such as smoking, heavy alcohol intake, steroid use, history of cancer and thyroid problems increase the risk over time.
More than 2 million fractures occur related to osteoporosis each year. Most people are unaware that they have low bone density until a fracture occurs. 80% of osteoporosis occurs in women, 20% in men. More than 1/2 of women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis in their lifetime (1/4 of all men).
A fracture can be more than just a broken bone. It may be a warning sign that you have osteoporosis. It can be a life changing event. Any bone can break from a fall or injury. In osteoporosis the most common fractures include the spine, wrist and hip. A hip fracture is a particularly serious event. In elderly patients >age 65, 20-25% will die within one year after sustaining a hip fracture. 40% will not return to pre-injury function or activity level. Many of these individuals will require home health or prolonged nursing care aids. A new osteoporosis fracture raises the risk of a subsequent fracture upwards of 5-10 times.
Jefferson Regional Medical Center has implemented the American Orthopaedic Association “Own the Bone” program, an osteoporosis program aimed at identifying, evaluating, educating and treating patients who sustain a fracture secondary to low bone density. The value of the program not only includes identification and treatment of patients with osteoporosis, but also establishes compliance and follow-up through a web based data registry. This is important because presently, only approximately 20% of individuals who sustain an osteoporosis related fracture obtain a bone density evaluation and/or treatment after their injury.