Osteoporosis: Not Just for Women Anymore

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Osteoporosis  is commonly associated with older adult women. But that doesn't mean it's not just as serious a condition for men to consider. While men are less likely to fracture a hip than women, the severity of fractures can be greater. In fact, men are twice as likely to lose their lives after a hip fracture compared to women. 

If you suspect your life is at risk for osteoporosis, or see signs in a loved one, learn more today so you can take steps to help keep those bones strong. 

What is Osteoporosis?

From the day you're born, your body constantly removes old bone cells and replaces them with new ones. As you age, your bone cells are removed faster than your body can replace them. This results in bones that are more fragile, thin and brittle. This thinning of your bones makes them more likely to being fractured. A bone mineral density measurement with a T-score of -2.5 or less indicates osteoporosis. 

Why Is Osteoporosis in Men Often Missed?

For men and women alike, osteoporosis can progress without pain or symptoms, and in many cases isn’t caught until there’s a fractured or broken bone. 

And, since bone loss tends to happen in women faster than in men, it’s more top-of-mind for women as they age, and is on doctors’ radars for recommended screenings. However, the same level of awareness isn’t always true for aging men.

How Doctors Diagnose Osteoporosis

If you suspect that you or a loved one has osteoporosis, your doctor can use many different methods to determine personal risk or to evaluate for the condition, including:

  • Bone mineral density tests (DEXA scan)
  • Clinical evaluation
  • Diagnostic workup
  • Fracture risk assessment 
  • Osteoporosis risk assessment (usually recommended by age 65)

BMD tests provide doctors with a measurement that is then compared to “the norm.” But even this can be tricky for doctors when trying to diagnose osteoporosis in men, since most of the data used to determine “normal” bone density is based on female bone density — which, can certainly skew the results.

Ways to Prevent or Treat Osteoporosis

It turns out that when it comes to taking steps to protect yourself from — or for your doctor to treat you for — osteoporosis, many of the same recommendations to prevent and treat osteoporosis are the same for males and females. 

Here are some tips for ensuring optimal bone health:

  • Increase your calcium intake, if needed (1,000 mg/day to age 50 and 1,200 mg/day for people 51 and older)
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine
  • Get regular exercise (cardiovascular and weight training)
  • Make sure you get enough vitamin D (through your diet, direct sunlight or supplements)

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with low bone mass (osteopenia) and need treatment, your doctor may recommend prescription drug therapy as a first line of defense. Depending on your unique needs, there are medications available to slow bone loss, promote bone growth or to reduce the risk of fractures. They are taken on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on your risk factors, the severity of osteoporosis and other medical issues you may have. 

Spread the Word to the Men in Your Life

May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Do your part to heighten awareness of this condition, especially in men, and talk about your osteoporosis risk with your trusted doctor. 

If you have questions about your osteoporosis risk, learn more about our orthopedic care and find a care team near you.

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