11 Mar 2024

Demystifying Osteoporosis: A Silent Disease with Serious Consequences

Osteoporosis. It’s a term that might not be on everyone’s radar, but it’s a condition that deserves our attention. Often referred to as the “silent disease,” osteoporosis silently weakens bones over time, often without any noticeable symptoms until a fracture occurs. In this accompanying blog post to our latest podcast episode, we will delve into the importance of understanding osteoporosis, why it matters, and what steps you can take to protect your bone health.

Understanding Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is characterized by a decrease in bone density, which weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures. Our bones constantly undergo a remodeling process, with cells called osteoblasts building new bone and cells called osteoclasts breaking down old bone. Normally, these processes are balanced, but with osteoporosis, bone breakdown outpaces bone formation, resulting in weakened bones.

Our bone density naturally declines as we age, making osteoporosis more common in older adults. However, it’s not just an issue for the elderly. Factors such as genetics, hormonal changes (especially in women after menopause), certain medications, and lifestyle habits can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

The Importance of Screening

One of the challenges with osteoporosis is that it often goes undiagnosed until a fracture occurs. Unlike other conditions that cause pain or noticeable symptoms, osteoporosis can silently progress for years without any warning signs. That’s why early detection through screening is crucial.

In the past, osteoporosis screening has primarily targeted women over the age of 65. However, recent research suggests that screening should begin earlier, especially for individuals with risk factors such as a family history of fractures, prolonged steroid use, or certain medical conditions like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

The Role of Bone Density Testing

Bone density testing, also known as a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, is the gold standard for diagnosing osteoporosis. This non-invasive test measures bone mineral density in the hip and spine, providing valuable information about bone health.

A DEXA scan results in two scores: a T-score and a Z-score. The T-score compares an individual’s bone density to that of a healthy young adult, while the Z-score compares bone density to others of the same age, gender, and ethnicity. A T-score of -2.5 or lower indicates osteoporosis, while a T-score between -1 and -2.5 indicates osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. Our Family Health offers DEXA bone density scans at our Monroe office. Call our office at 770-464-0280 to book your DEXA scan.

Beyond Bone Density: The FRAX Calculator

In addition to bone density testing, healthcare providers may use the FRAX calculator to assess fracture risk. This tool takes into account various risk factors such as age, gender, BMI, family history, and previous fractures to estimate the likelihood of experiencing a fracture in the next 10 years.

Individuals with a high fracture risk on the FRAX calculator may benefit from early intervention to prevent fractures and preserve bone health. This could include lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and, in some cases, medication to strengthen bones.

Taking Control of Your Bone Health

While osteoporosis may seem daunting, you can take steps to protect your bone health and reduce your risk of fractures. Our medical providers at our Bone Health Clinic can help you reduce your risk and help you navigate your bone health. Here are actions you can take:

  • Get screened: If you’re over 50 or have risk factors for osteoporosis, get a DEXA bone density test.
  • Stay active: Engage in weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing, or strength training to improve bone density and muscle strength. 
  • Eat a balanced diet: Ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for bone health. Good sources include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods. 
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol: Both smoking and heavy alcohol consumption can weaken bones and increase the risk of fractures.
  • Discuss treatment options: If diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, we can work with you to develop a treatment plan that may include medication, lifestyle modifications, supplements, and fall prevention strategies.


Osteoporosis may be a silent disease, but its impact on bone health and overall well-being is significant. By understanding the risk factors, getting screened, and taking proactive steps to protect bone health, you can reduce your risk of fractures and maintain mobility and independence as you age. Don’t wait until it’s too late – prioritize your bone health today for a stronger tomorrow. 

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