Osteoporosis means porous bones, and is a reduction in the mass and quality of bone. It is usually a silent condition, meaning that there is typically no pain unless fractures occur. It affects over 200 million people worldwide. Women are at higher risk than men, and account for about 75% of cases, however, men are at greater risk of dying of a hip fracture. More than 10 million people in the US have osteoporosis, and more than 2 million osteoporotic fractures occur each year. Nearly one-third of American women will develop osteoporosis severe enough to cause a fracture. Osteoporosis is costing the US health care system more than $16 Billion yearly.
The incidence of osteoporosis varies widely across the world populations; the Chinese have low rates and Iceland having high rates. Epidemiological studies have found a marked increase in osteoporotic fractures over the past several decades. The increased prevalence of osteoporosis in modern societies is presumably related to changes in our diet, lifestyle and environment.
Osteoporosis is not just a calcium deficiency. It is a multifactorial disease, relating to genetic, hormonal, metabolic, mechanical and immunologic factors. Bone mass reaches its peak at about 30 years of age, and begins to decline after age 40 years. Bone loss accelerates in women around menopause. Our bones are dynamic structures, undergoing constant repair and renewal throughout life. When bone loss is greater than bone repair, then osteoporosis develops.
The traditional testing in the US follows the World Health Organization guidelines, using only the DEXA scan, which measures bone density but not quality. There is no established way to access bone quality in medical practice today. The usefulness of DEXA screening has been questioned, because some studies did not show the results to be helpful in predicting non-vertebral fracture risk.
Measuring biochemical markers of bone turnover combined with bone density may provide a more accurate prediction of future fracture risk. Other risk factors should be assessed as well.
Eleven factors were found to be predictive:
Race or ethnicity
Self-reported physical activity
Fracture at age 55+
Parental hip fracture
The many factors (including laboratory testing) which are evaluated by an integrative physician are as follows:
Role of inflammation
Nutrition for Bone Health
Essential fatty acids
Substances that may be harmful to bone health:
Certain medications (steroids & others)
MD prescriptive medications
Laboratory & diagnostic tests
(DEXA, Dpd, Ntx, ESR, CRP, CMP, CBC, homocysteine, gluten, food sensitivities, hormones, stool tests, nutrient deficiencies, etc)
Under the care of a holistic or integrative physician, you can evaluate and modify many risk factors of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures, thereby also improving your health in general)
Call now for an appointment to evaluate and modify your risk factors.