One way to prevent broken bones is to keep bones strong and solid. This is primarily done with strength– training and weight-bearing exercises as well as proper nutrition. As people age, however, their bones can become thinner. They may look more like a sponge than solid material. This is called “osteoporosis”.
Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men. This is because in women, the hormone estrogen helps prevent bone loss. After menopause, the level of estrogen in the body decreases and bones can become weak and brittle.
It’s important to detect osteoporosis early. Having a broken bone at any age is painful, and takes a long time to heal. Having a broken bone is also extremely inconvenient. If the broken bone occurs in the spine, it can result in chronic pain and be very difficult to treat.
All women age 65 and older should be screened for osteoporosis. Women who are at greater risk should be screened sooner. Screening is done using a DEXA scan, which is a type of imaging. A DEXA scan can be ordered by your primary care provider, who will know if you need to be screened before age 65.
Osteoporosis is usually treated by a rheumatologist.