Osteoporosis - Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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Osteoporosis - Medical Malpractice

Osteoporosis involves a thinning of the matrix of the bone so that the bone is less dense over time. It is the most common of all bone diseases, occurring in about 1 out of 5 women over the age of fifty. Surprisingly, half of all women over the age of fifty will have some type of fracture of their back, wrist or hips. It occurs when more bone is lost than is made, either through excessive bone loss or a poor amount of bone gain.

The two major minerals essential for bone formation include phosphate and calcium. The body uses these minerals to build bone. If you don't get enough of these minerals in your diet, you can suffer from low bone mass and osteopenia or less dense bones. The bones are brittle and fragile, and are prone to fracturing with minimal injury. The fracture might be the first sign of osteoporosis if the individual has not had screening for osteoporosis. Bone loss occurs gradually over many years and can be detected through screening measures.

The most common cause of osteoporosis is the lack of oestrogen that occurs during and after menopause happens. This puts women over fifty at risk of having osteoporosis. Men are at risk after the age of 70. Other causes of osteoporosis are prolonged bed confinement, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, eating disorders, chronic kidney disease, any disease that results in chronic steroid use and hyperparathyroidism. It is most common in Caucasian women who have a family history of osteoporosis and who are of thin build.

Other risk factors for osteoporosis include long periods of amenorrhea, drinking alcohol to excess, having a family history of the disease, being treated with breast cancer and prostate cancer medications, being of a low body weight, smoking, and not eating enough calcium.

There are few or no symptoms of osteoporosis in the early stages of the disease but there can be bony pain or tenderness, loss of height, low back pain, fractures that can happen easily, neck pain and a stooped posture or kyphosis, commonly referred to as a dowager's hump.

Testing for osteoporosis includes doing a DEXA scan, which is a densitometry scan that tells the density of specific bones of the body. This is the best screening test for osteoporosis and is a good way of monitoring the disease once the treatment has been ongoing. A CT scan of the spin can show the loss of mineral density of the vertebrae can be done and is called a quantitative computed tomography. X-rays of the bones can be suspicious for osteopenia or osteoporosis but aren't good at detecting the degree of the disease.

The treatment of osteoporosis involves pain management, slowing or stopping bone loss, preventing fractures by strengthening bone and minimizing falls. Medications that improve bone density include bisphosphonates, which are a class of medications that work the best in improving bone loss. These include Fosamax, Boniva and Actonel. They can be given by IV or orally at varying intervals. Calcitonin is another medication that improves bone loss. It is not as effective as bisphosphonates and is given as a nasal spray. Hormone replacement therapy with oestrogen and progesterone are effective in post-menopausal women who have loss of bone due to osteoporosis. It can be used along with bisphosphonates. Those with severe osteoporosis can use a parathyroid hormone medication given via shots beneath the skin on a daily basis. People are trained to do this at home like insulin injections. Raloxifene or Evista is a medication used to treat osteoporosis. It is related to Tamoxifen and can reduce the chances of vertebral fractures by nearly 50 percent.

Exercise is important in osteoporosis. You need exercise that involves weight bearing such as walking or jogging, balance exercises like yoga, resistance exercises such as lifting weights, riding bicycle or using rowing machines. Try not to do any exercise that increases your chances of falling and fracturing your bones.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here