Specialty care for bone health and fractures

As we age, our bones weaken. Women are more likely to get fragile bones (osteoporosis) as they experience the hormone changes that come with menopause, but men can also get osteoporosis. At UW Health, we work with you to prevent and treat osteoporosis, bone fractures and repeat bone breaks.

Symptoms, causes, risks

What you need to know about osteoporosis

As your bones lose calcium and other minerals and proteins, they become weak. This can lead to fractures with normal activities. The most common cause of osteoporosis-related fractures is falling. Bone breaks happen most often in the hip, spine and wrist.

Fragility fractures happen when you fall from a standing height or lower. If you have one fragility fracture, you are twice as likely to have another.

Osteoporosis bone breaks common among older adults

Number of people who experience fragility fractures in the U.S. each year
Percent of people with an untreated fragility fracture

Causes and Risk Factors

Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. Your bone mass stays stable until around age 50 — or at menopause. Osteoporosis can develop from a combination of factors, including:

  • Anorexia

  • Calcium deficiency

  • Genetic low bone mass

  • Hormone deficiency in adolescence

  • Lack of optimal bone mass as a young adult

  • Medications

  • Menopause

  • Other health conditions

  • Poor nutrition

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Tobacco and alcohol use

There are many risk factors associated with weakening bones. Some you can control. 

Risk factors include: 

  • Age

  • Conditions such as anorexia nervosa, Cushing's disease, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism and malabsorption

  • Ethnicity

  • Gender

  • Genetics

  • Medicines such as anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, heparin, methotrexate and thyroid drugs

  • Premature menopause

  • Surgeries like gastrectomy or intestinal bypass

Risk factors you can control include: 

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Diet low in calcium and/or vitamin D

  • Exercise level

  • High caffeine intake

  • Smoking

Your osteoporosis care team provides help to change your lifestyle and reduce your risks.

Treatments and research

Strategies to manage osteoporosis

When you come to UW Health for bone loss care, we provide a complete care plan. We talk with you about your lifestyle and life goals. We want you to achieve the best possible quality of life. 

We provide education about fragility fractures. If you know how to prevent bone breaks, they are less likely to happen. If a fracture does occur, we want you to seek care. Untreated fragility fractures can lead to:

  • Depression

  • Inability to fully recover

  • Increased pain

  • Poor health

  • Reduced mobility

Expectations, prevention and research

We want to help you avoid weak bones and fractures. At your clinic visit we will:

  • Determine if any other factors affect your low bone density

  • Discuss results or order a bone density test

  • Order lab tests if needed

  • Prescribe the proper daily amounts of calcium, vitamin D and protein you need

  • Prescribe medicines to reduce fracture risk, if needed

  • Recommend exercises or physical therapy to build strength in your muscles and bones 

Your care team also talks with you about your lifestyle. We discuss how to reduce your risk factors for bone breaks. This means taking steps to change behaviors, such as:

  • Eating a proper diet

  • Managing other health conditions

  • Medication management

  • Preventing falls

  • Reducing alcohol intake

  • Stopping smoking

If you have osteoporosis, the best way to reduce complications is to prevent falls. You can follow these tips to keep yourself healthy and keep your home safe.

Lifestyle tips for fall prevention:

  • Exercise regularly to stay strong

  • Get yearly hearing and vision checks

  • Know if any medicines you take could affect your balance or coordination 

  • Limit alcohol intake

  • Stand up slowly

  • Take care when walking on icy, uneven or wet surfaces

  • Use a cane or walker to help keep your balance

  • Wear supportive rubber-soled shoes or low-heeled shoes

Make your home safe:

  • Attach carpets securely to the floor

  • Ensure enough lighting, especially on stairs

  • Find chairs and couches that are easy for you to get in and out of

  • Install night lights in bedrooms, hallways and near stairs

  • Keep living areas free of clutter

  • Keep a telephone by your bed

  • Place cords and wires out of walking paths

  • Use handrails on stairs and in the bathtub and shower

  • Use nonskid mats on floors that may get wet

The osteoporosis doctors at UW Health study ways to provide the best care for strong bones and fractures. We research how to boost muscle and bone strength as people age and test new medicines to improve muscle and bone strength.

Learn more

Meet our team

Expert care for strong bones

The osteoporosis care team at UW Health in Madison, Wis., includes experts in bone loss, endocrinology, fractures, nutrition, physical therapy and social work.

Patient and support services

Education and support for you

Your osteoporosis care team provides extensive education to help you have strong bones and avoid fractures.

You receive information about:

  • General bone health 

  • Nutrition 

  • Physical therapy 

  • Psychosocial support

Learn more about osteoporosis.


Osteoporosis care locations

We provide specialty osteoporosis care at UW Health clinics in Madison.