Osteoporosis: A Silent Disease

By Beth Nicastro

Old woman with broken wrist in blue gypsum isolated over white background

Osteoporosis is a major public health concern. It is a silent, bone thinning disease that increases your risk for broken bones. In the US, 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men over the age of 50 have a broken bone at some point. Hip, wrist and spine fractures are the most common. Often, there are no symptoms. And in postmenopausal women, osteoporosis fractures are more common than breast cancer and heart disease combined! A fracture can affect a person’s independence and rob them of an active lifestyle.

The good news is that taking some simple precautions can help prevent falls and promote bone health.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stay active with weight bearing exercises such as walking.
  • Get your Vitamin D and eat calcium-rich foods like yogurt, kale, and almonds.
  • Prevent falls by getting your eyes checked yearly.
  • Eat a balanced diet making sure you get enough leafy greens, lean protein and fruits
  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Get some sunshine.

Young people should also be reminded to eat well and exercise, as bone mass is achieved when people are in their early 20s. It is also a good idea to review your medications to determine if any that you are taking can affect your bone health. Discuss the recommended amounts of Vitamin D and Calcium with your physician.

A DEXA scan (dual energy xray) is the preferred technique to measure bone density in the hip and spine. (www.nof.org). All women aged 65 and older, and men aged 70 and older should be tested. It is best to talk to your doctor about your personal risks and needs. You will need a prescription for this test.

For more information about osteoporosis visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation at

http://www.nof.org, the New York State Osteoporosis Prevention and Educations Foundation at http://www.nysopep.org, or call the Bone phone at Catholic Health System Women Care at 716-862-BONE (2663).

Catholic Health System has two osteoporosis support groups that take place in the Northtowns and the Southtowns for anyone interested. Womencare also sponsors free bone density screenings of the heel, which is an excellent predictor of your falls risk, and whether additional testing is needed. Learn more at www.chsbuffalo.org. To schedule a peripheral bone density screening, call 716-862-2182.

As always, it is very important to consult your personal physician in seeking medical advice.

About the Author:
Beth Nicastro RN, BSN, MS is a Community Nurse Educator at Catholic Health System in Buffalo.