300 Oak Street NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106


Phone: 505-855-5525
Fax: 505-884-4006
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-------------------E. Michael Lewiecki, MD, FACP, FACE - Osteoporosis Director -|- Lance A. Rudolph, MD - Research Director
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Winter 2012

Why me?

It is a story we hear every day. You did everything right, and you still got osteoporosis. It isn’t fair. You’re upset. This should not be happening to you. Here is an example….. Linda is 62 years-old. She tripped on the garden hose last summer and injured her wrist. She went to the Emergency Department to be checked.  An X-ray showed a broken bone (fracture). Luckily, the bones were lined up well and surgery was not needed. She had to wear a cast for 6 weeks. When it was taken off, the wrist was stiff and her grip was weak, but slowly it all returned to normal. A few months later, she saw her primary care doctor for an annual check-up. Her examination was normal. Weight was 112 lbs. A bone density showed a low number (a T-score of -2.8). The diagnosis? Severe osteoporosis.

Linda was a health fanatic. She was in good physical condition. She didn’t smoke or drink too much. She took calcium, vitamin D, and multivitamins. She took extra care to follow the advice she received for maintaining good bone health, because her mother had osteoporosis and broke her hip at the age of 78. At the time of menopause, Linda started on hormones for hot flashes, but stopped a few years later when reports came out about side effects.

Why did Linda get osteoporosis? Although healthy lifestyle and good nutrition is recommended for all of us, it is not a guarantee that osteoporosis won’t develop. Linda had a number of risk factors for osteoporosis that increases the chances of her getting it- female, postmenopausal, estrogen deficient, family history of osteoporosis, and low body weight (less than 127 lbs is considered low from a bone viewpoint). However, this is not a doom and gloom story. There are now many effective and safe medications for treating osteoporosis. Medications can make bones stronger and less likely to break. Hopefully Linda will not have the unfortunate experience of her mother in breaking her hip.

What’s next for Linda? First, some laboratory tests should be done to see if there is anything causing osteoporosis that might need special attention. These tests check for calcium and vitamin D deficiency, malabsorption, excessive loss of calcium in the urine, thyroid disease, parathyroid disease, and more. Sometimes X-rays of the back are ordered to look for spine (vertebral) fractures, the most common type of osteoporotic fracture.

Muscle strength and balance should be evaluated. Problems here may increase the risk of falling, something that is not good for someone with weak bones. If the risk of falling is high, then a visit to a physical therapist to get started on a program of exercises at home can help.
Finally, the benefits and risks of medication to reduce fracture risk should be considered, with careful attention to the needs and concerns of each individual patient.



E. Michael Lewiecki, MD                                    
Lance A. Rudolph, MD

This page update 01/09/2012