What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become weak and brittle. Sometimes it is called “emphysema of the bone” or “not enough bone in the bone.” It is a common disease, and can result in fractures from even trivial trauma. In fact, it is estimated that a 50 year-old woman has a 40% chance of having an osteoporotic fracture during her remaining lifetime. Osteoporosis is important because of the problems resulting from these fractures- disability, loss of independence, and even death. Any kind of fracture may occur, but the most common are fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist. Osteoporosis is not an inevitable part of aging, but is a disease that can be prevented and treated, provided it is detected early.

Who gets osteoporosis? Anyone can get osteoporosis- 44 million Americans have a problem with significant bone loss. 80% of them are women, 20% are men. While no one is immune from this problem, some of us are more likely to get it than others.

Common risk factors for osteoporosis are:

  • Female
  • Postmenopausal
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Lack of exercise
  • Small body frame
  • Low calcium intake
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Caucasian or Asian
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, hypogonadism
  • Medications – corticosteroids (Prednisone), excess thyroid hormone, some
    diuretics (Lasix), and anticonvulsants (Dilantin, Phenobarb, Tegretol)

Do you have osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis only causes symptoms when it is far advanced. Symptoms include loss of height, deformed spine (“dowager’s hump”), unexplained back pain, and fractures. It is best to detect problems at an early stage, when treatment is most effective. The best test for detecting osteoporosis is bone densitometry, done with a technique called “Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry” or DXA. This is a very accurate way of measuring your bone density, and can be used for both early detection and for monitoring the effectiveness of treatment for this disease. If you are concerned about osteoporosis, ask your doctor for more information.

Educational Documents for Patients

We strive to ensure all our patients have all the information they need. Please click the links to the right for more information on any subject.

Osteoporosis Support Group

The Osteoporosis Foundation of New Mexico sponsors online educational meetings for anyone interested in learning about the evaluation, prevention, and treatment of osteoporosis. These are highly interactive and enjoyable, with opportunities to ask questions and share your thoughts with others. Regular participants will get to know each other and may become online friends. Topics include diet, exercise, vitamins, calcium, medications, and natural therapy.
To learn more about the Osteoporosis Support Group and register to participate, visit the Osteoporosis Foundation of New Mexico website at www.ofnm.org.

Educational Presentations

We are deeply committed to educating healthcare providers and the public on issues relating to osteoporosis and bone metabolism. Our physicians are board certified in internal medicine, certified in bone densitometry by the International Society for Clinical Densitometry, and on the clinical faculty at University of New Mexico School of Medicine. They are clinicians with a consultative practice in osteoporosis, researchers investigating new treatments for osteoporosis, and educators with an interest in a variety of osteoporosis-related topics. They have lectured on osteoporosis and taught bone densitometry courses throughout the US. Our trained bone densitometry technologists and staff members are also skilled osteoporosis educators.

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