It might seem difficult to believe, considering that an estimated 200 million people across the globe suffer from osteoporosis, but this is a very undertreated disease process. Failing to assess and treat osteoporosis early in the progression of the disease can have serious consequences, particularly for adults over the age of 65.
Here at ARBDA, our New Jersey osteoporosis specialists understand the importance of early intervention in limiting the negative effects of osteoporosis. We’re committed to providing accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans for patients at our six locations throughout the state. Let’s take a closer look at the disease and how we can maximize the quality of life for at-risk patients.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. We’ve illustrated some key facts about the condition in this infographic:
Why is Osteoporosis Undertreated?
The above infographic hints at why osteoporosis is often called a “silent killer.” Because symptoms are subtle, and aches and pains are easily brushed off as just another side effect of aging, many people suffering from the disease don’t know they have it until it’s too late. In other words, they don’t know until they’ve fallen and broken a bone.
For young people, a bone fracture might be considered a mere speed bump, but for seniors, it can result in disability and even death. This is why, when approaching the age of 65, adults should get screened for osteoporosis and start on a preventative treatment plan if they’re found to have low bone density.
How Can You Prevent Osteoporosis?
Focusing on a healthy lifestyle as we age can help to slow the breakdown of bones. For women, who are more at risk of developing osteoporosis, experts recommend adding Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to the diet as early as their mid-20s. These supplements increase in importance as a woman approaches, then passes, menopause. Men and women alike are encouraged to exercise habitually to keep their bodies strong, refrain from smoking, and limit alcohol intake.
Once a healthy lifestyle is adopted, seniors are urged to undergo osteoporosis screening as they near the age of 65, or if they’ve recently broken a bone. Starting treatment early can help prevent devastating falls and fractures down the road.
How Do We Test Bone Density?
To diagnose osteoporosis, a specialist employs a bone density test to assess the integrity and structure of a patient’s bones. Bone density is measured by a “T-score.” A T-score at or above -1.0 is normal, while anything between -1.0 and -2.5 means low bone density. At below -2.5, a patient receives a diagnosis of osteoporosis.
At ARBA, we screen for osteoporosis using the cutting-edge DEXA Scan (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry), a safe and painless method that doesn’t just examine bone density in fracture-prone areas of the body — it helps us assess what treatment options will be most effective. Whether it’s prescribing medication, tweaking the diet, or strengthening the body, we can develop a customized plan based on the results of the scan.
As tools for the assessment and management of osteoporosis go, the DEXA is the gold standard, and we can’t stress enough how important it is for at-risk patients to avail themselves of this technology. Waiting until after a disastrous fall or fracture has occurred to receive a diagnosis of osteoporosis is likely to change a patient’s life forever, and not for the better.
For more information about the treatment of osteoporosis or to schedule a bone density test in New Jersey, contact ARBDA today.