Women’s Services

What is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bones caused by loss of calcium after menopause or other hormonal changes. It can lead to fractures in your wrist, hip, or spine, along with loss of height or stooped posture.

Osteoporosis can progress undetected for decades. Often, you have no symptoms until a fracture occurs. The good news is that osteoporosis is preventable and treatable. While some bone loss is normal as you age, we can help you reduce excessive bone loss. If you already have osteoporosis, we can help you increase bone density and reduce your chances of breaking a bone.

Who’s at Risk?

As a woman, you’re at much higher risk for osteoporosis than a man because you have 10 to 25 percent less total bone mass at maturity. At menopause, when estrogen production slows, you begin to lose bone mass.

The causes of osteoporosis are unknown, but certain risk factors might increase your chance of developing osteoporotic fractures. They include:

  • Small, thin frame
  • Advanced age
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Early or surgically induced menopause or abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Eating disorders
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Use of certain medications (steroids, antacids, thyroidhormonetherapy, anticonvulsants, etc.) or prolonged treatment with corticosteroids
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Personal history of low impact fracture
  • History of fracture in a first degree relative.

Can I Be Tested for Osteoporosis?

Yes. A special X-ray called DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) measures bone density. It's the most accurate and advanced way to test for osteoporosis and monitor the effects of treatment.

DEXA testing is quick, easy and painless. Lake Health offers DEXA testing at TriPoint Medical Center, West Medical Center and the Mentor and Madison campuses.

Screening for low bone density can be done with a quick ultrasonic measurement of the heel bone. Lake Health periodically offers free heel screenings at community events.

If you believe you are at risk for osteoporosis, talk with your doctor and ask about a DEXA test. If you don’t have a doctor, call the Best of Health Line for a physician referral at 800-454-9800. A number of Lake Health physicians specialize in osteoporosis diagnosis and treatment. Several medications are available to increase bone mass and reduce the risk of fractures.

How Do I Get Started?

Lake Health’s Osteoporosis Clinics at West Medical Center and TriPoint Medical Center provide advanced multidisciplinary care for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. The clinics offer comprehensive evaluation, screening and treatments, including patient education in the areas of nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation, and medication focused on the prevention and management of osteoporosis. The primary goal of the clinics is to help patients prevent fractures by stopping or slowing bone loss, maintaining bone strength and eliminating factors that contribute to falls.

The Osteoporosis Clinics also provide technical and clinical excellence in the field of bone mass measurement testing. Both locations are equipped with DEXA machines – the most advanced technology for scanning weak/porous bones.

The clinics are open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm. A physician referral is required. For more information, call 440-354-1802 (TriPoint) or 440-953-6030 (West).

How Can I Prevent Osteoporosis?

The National Osteoporosis Foundation and medical professionals have identified three key steps that can help you protect yourself against osteoporosis:

Diet. Getting adequate amounts of calcium from childhood through your senior years might offer protection against osteoporosis. Recent studies indicate that many adults get only half the calcium they need daily. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women obtain adequate amounts of calcium each day to help maintain strong bones. You also need normal levels of vitamin D to absorb calcium. Your body manufactures this vitamin as a result of exposure to sunlight, and it is also available in vitamin-enriched milk products. Too much vitamin D is harmful, so don’t decide to take supplements without first consulting your doctor.

Exercise. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, stair climbing or jogging, can help prevent osteoporosis.

Smoking. No one really knows the link between smoking and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Experts feel the evidence is clear that quitting smoking reduces your risk.

Take this quiz to find out if you are at risk for osteoporosis:

  • Are you over 65?
  • Are you a post-menopausal woman?
  • Did you have an early or surgically induced menopause?
  • Are you Caucasian or Asian?
  • Do you have a personal history of fracture as an adult?
  • Is there a life-long history of low calcium intake?
  • Do you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in excess?
  • Have you taken certain medications such as steroids, thyroid, and anti-coagulants for long periods?
  • Have you lost inches in height?
  • Are you physically active?

The more times you answered yes, the greater your risk of osteoporosis. Contact your physician about a DEXA test to rule out osteopenia or osteoporosis.