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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:
Genetic low bone mass
Hormone deficiency in adolescence
Lack of optimal bone mass as a young adult
Other health conditions
Tobacco and alcohol use
There are many risk factors associated with weakening bones. Some you can control.
Risk factors include:
Conditions such as anorexia nervosa, Cushing's disease, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism and malabsorption
Medicines such as anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, heparin, methotrexate and thyroid drugs
Surgeries like gastrectomy or intestinal bypass
Risk factors you can control include:
Diet low in calcium and/or vitamin D
High caffeine intake
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:
Inability to fully recover
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
Reducing alcohol intake
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.
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
Learn more about osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis care locations
We provide specialty osteoporosis care at UW Health clinics in Madison.