Many of my patients are often surprised when they are referred to see an endocrinologist for bone loss. Estrogen, thyroid hormone, and parathyroid hormone are among the many hormones that affect your bones. As an endocrinologist I look at various hormones and see how they are impacting the overall state of your bones.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone disorders I treat. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone or cannot make enough. When bone is lost, they can weaken and are more likely to break.
More than 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Osteoporosis is a chronic disease and requires assessment and treatment over time. It tends to occur more frequently in people over age 50 and in women.
A silent disease, osteoporosis can go unnoticed until a patient breaks a bone in the hip, spine, or wrist. As the disease progresses, there can be other signs like back pain or a curved backbone.
Managing Bone Health and Osteoporosis
Typically I see patients after the initial diagnosis from their primary care provider, if there is a high fracture risk, or if there is a fracture despite therapy. Many patients have already had a DEXA Scan to measure bone density.
I find that many patients can view medications as problematic. Yes, there are risks and side effects to any medication but there are substantial benefits that can effectively support managing bone health. I encourage discussing any medication questions with your physician regarding side effects and actual risks.
Every patient is different and working together, we can determine the best treatment option for you based on your individual health. If a patient has declining bone density or a fracture despite being on therapy, injectable or IV therapy could be an option.
How can you improve bone density?
Improving bone density also requires lifestyle modifications. I encourage my patients to:
- Stop smoking.
- Reduce alcohol. Excessive alcohol can decrease bone formation.
- Integrate weight-bearing exercise into your routine like walking, jogging, dancing, or lifting weights helps keep your bones strong by working the muscles and bones against gravity.
- Increase intake of foods containing calcium and vitamin D. For calcium, try Greek yogurt or low fat cheese. For Vitamin D, try eggs, fatty fish like sardines, and fortified cereal.
- Reduce fall risk. Incorporate balance and mobility into your exercise routine. If needed, use an assistive device while walking.