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Osteoporosis is a crippling bone disease that affects 44 million Americans who are age 50 years and over.  And it’s believed that many more people may have it and do not know it.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by loss of bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue.  It can lead to bone fragility and increased susceptibility to fractures.  Dr. Casey Younkin, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says most people have no symptoms until they develop a fracture.

“... if people with osteoporosis develop a spinal fracture, all of a sudden they will lose height.  They get an inch or two shorter.  They may also notice that their back has increased curvature, especially at the top.  That’s called kiphosis(?) or a dowager’s hump.  Those symptoms and Also, bone pain when the bone fractures...”
The people at highest risk for the disease are white, thin women age 50 or over, but men also can have osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis can be detected by a bone density scan, an out-patient test, which is usually covered by insurance companies and Medicare.   Although there is no cure for the disease, medications are available to treat it.  He explains some common medications.

“For many years, the recommended treatment was an oral pill like Fosamax, Actonel or Bonevia.  These are all tablets, medications the patient could take by mouth, either given weekly or monthly. More recently, we’ve had medications given by injection.  There’s something called Reclast, we use a lot.  That’s given once a year.  Just once a year injection of the medication and it’s very effective.  There’s another one called Prolia, that’s given twice a year.

Dr. Younkin says all women over the age of 50 and men who are at risk should take 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium as well as Vitamin D each day.  If you or another adult in your family is losing height, it might be a sign of osteoporosis.  Contact a primary care physician for evaluation and possible treatment.

Ruth Slottag