As you age, your bones naturally get thinner. But some things can cause your bones to get severely thin and brittle and put you at risk for bone fractures. This condition is called osteoporosis.
If you are at risk for osteoporosis, your health-care provider may order a bone scan or recommend that you see a specialist.
What causes osteoporosis?
Sometimes bone loss occurs without any known cause. However, there are also factors that can lead to the development of osteoporosis:
- Genetics and family history
- Not getting enough calcium or Vitamin D.
- Hormonal changes that take place with aging.
- Certain medical conditions or medications.
- Poor nutrition, smoking, or excessive alcohol use.
- Having a small frame or body size
- Not getting enough exercise or activity
How is osteoporosis treated?
Depending on the amount of bone loss, your provider may prescribe any of the following treatments:
- Treatment of fractures – if necessary
- Improved nutrition, including calcium and vitamin D rich foods
- Weight-bearing exercises
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol
Should I see a specialist?
Your healthcare provider may suggest a consultation with an endocrinology specialist for the following:
- The results of your bone scan
- Back pain
- Loss of height and a stooped posture
- Broken bones
- Compression fractures in the spine - causing pain and making you shorter
Although it commonly affects women, both men and women can develop osteoporosis.
This can be due to a decrease in the hormone estrogen in women at the time of menopause and a decrease in the hormone testosterone in men as they age.
There are no early warning signs with osteoporosis. So, both men and women should talk with their healthcare provider about getting a bone density test.