The goal of UW Health's Osteoporosis Clinic is to prevent and treat osteoporosis and fracture through education, clinical care and research.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis refers to bones that have become weaker due to loss of calcium, other minerals and proteins. Because of this weakening, fractures may occur with normal activities. In the absence of fractures, osteoporosis does not cause symptoms.
The most common sites of osteoporotic fractures are:
- Hip: Hip fractures are often due to falling. This is the most serious osteoporotic fracture, as afterwards many people can no longer walk unaided or live independently.
- Wrist: Wrist fractures are painful and sometimes require surgery.
- Spine: Spine fractures may result in curvature of the spine (dowager's hump), loss of height and pain. However, it is important to recognize that "silent" or painless fractures of the spine are common. As such, height loss without pain may be an indicator of spine fracture.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is often the result of a combination of factors. One is failure to obtain an optimal level of bone mass as a young adult. This may simply be genetic, as approximately 70 percent of a person's peak bone mass is due to their inheritance.
Once peak bone mass is reached at about age 30, it remains relatively stable until approximately age 50 or the time of menopause. However, other factors such as calcium inadequacy, anorexia or hormone deficiency during adolescence can contribute to a person attaining a lower peak bone mass.
Subsequently, bone loss may be due to inadequate nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, certain illnesses or medications, and lifestyle factors such as use of tobacco and alcohol. Additionally, in women entering menopause, rapid bone loss occurs when the ovaries stop making estrogen. This loss occurs rapidly over approximately five years. Subsequently slower rates of bone loss occur as a person ages. In men, bone loss often begins at approximately age 50.
Osteoporosis Assessment and Management
Our approach includes assessment and optimization of nutrition, physical activity, social issues and medical assessment/management.