Osteoporosis Risk Factors
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
Frederick Singer (Director of the Endocrine/Bone Disease Program, John Wayne Cancer Institute ) gives expert video advice on: If my mother had a history of osteoporosis why would I get it too?; Can a doctor tell if I have osteoporosis just by looking at me? and more...
If my mother had a history of osteoporosis why would I get it too?
If a parent has osteoporosis and perhaps the mother of the parent had osteoporosis, then the grandchild is at considerable risk for osteoporosis. Fortunately,osteoporosis not usually a guaranteed result, but it's like 50 percent of the offspring might have low bone density or develop osteoporosis.
Will I develop osteoporosis if I become unable to walk?
One of the strongest reasons to develop osteoporosis is being immobilized. So people that have strokes, people that have had injuries to the spine where they can't move, these people are at tremendous risk for developing osteoporosis, actually over quite a relatively short time. Fortunately we have medications that can prevent that.
What is "scoliosis"?
With osteoporosis risk factors, scoliosis is a moderately common condition in which there's an S-shaped curve of the spine, often starting in childhood, and often it's in a parent, or even a sibling. It is a condition which is not really due to osteoporosis, but it's not uncommon that they occur together, and actually if you start having fractures of the spine when you have scoliosis, you end up in considerable difficulty.
Is scoliosis caused by osteoporosis?
With osteoporosis risk factors, I don't believe that scoliosis is caused by osteoporosis, but they may be associated because they are both relatively common conditions.
How is osteoporosis detected?
Osteoporosis is detected primary by having a bone density test. X-rays, for instance, which are done for a variety of reasons, may give someone the suspicion that there may be osteoporosis, but in fact, the only way to be certain is to have a bone density test.
Can a doctor tell if I have osteoporosis just by looking at me?
If a doctor looks at the average person who has osteoporosis, they generally could not tell that it was present. That is because osteoporosis is really silent until the bones start to really deteriorate. So, I might be able to tell someone has osteoporosis if I see a curvature, a forward curvature, of the spine called kyphosis.
What is "kyphosis"?
With osteoporosis risk factors, kyphosis is something that you see in elderly women in particular, though it can affect men. The shoulders slump forward and the head can end up almost looking at the ground in its most severe form. Kyphosis is a condition which takes usually years to develop and is associated with the most severe forms of osteoporosis.
What is a "bone density test"?
A bone density test is a test using x-rays to determine the density of the spine. By density, we mean the mass per unit volume. We're not weighing the spine, but we're getting an estimate of how much bone there is per size of the bone with that bone density test.
Who should have bone density testing?
Bone density testing is somewhat controversial. Some organizations say that people over 65 years of age should have bone density testing. Since you can lose quite a bit of bone between 50 and 65, if you're a woman, I personally feel that is not an adequate recommendation. I think anybody that's had fractures without much trauma should have a bone density test, no matter what the age. I think a 50 year old woman with certain risk factors, such as a family history of osteoporosis, heavy smoking, things like that, that should alert the doctor to think of having a bone density test, even though you can't see anything wrong with the patient.
Do X-rays play a role in determining osteoporosis?
With osteoporosis risk factors, X-rays in the past were the one way to have an impression that there osteoporosis may exist, but X-rays really mainly show fractures. So, we need to have a bone density test because an X-ray is not sensitive enough to pick up early forms of osteoporosis, and it's actually not a measurement, it's just somebody looking at a picture and having an impression. Bone density testing actually gives you a number and something that can be decided is or isn't osteoporosis.
What is "osteopenia"?
Osteopenia is a term applied to a bone density which doesn't reach a level of osteoporosis. In other words, it's a mild form of osteoporosis. There's less risk for fractures if you have osteopenia as compared to osteoporosis.