Osteoporosis runs in my family. Because it does, last year I was able to convince both my ob/gyn and my insurance company that I was at risk and a bone density scan was warranted, although I wasn't yet (and am still not) post-menopausal.
Last year's test showed that I did indeed have osteoporosis. The doctor prescribed more calcium in my diet, a vitamin D supplement to help my body better aborb the calcium, regular exercise and Boniva. I've easily kept up with the calcium, vitamin D and Boniva.
The exercise is another story. I hate to exercise and have trouble sticking to any kind of formal exercise plan. But I do try to work walking and weight-bearing exercise into my daily routines. For example, I carry baskets of wet laundry up and down our basement stairs to hang on the line and I bear my own weight as I mop our kitchen floor on my hands and knees. I try walk Sparky to school often, and when I go to the store, I intentionally park far from the door.
So, after a year on Boniva, my bone density scan results show that I have osteopenia rather than osteoporosis. The Boniva not only stopped the osteoporosis, but actually reversed it. This is good news!
My eldest sister hasn't been as fortunate. She wasn't diagnosed until later (around 55, I think) and her severe osteoporosis isn't responding to Boniva.
Although anyone, including men, can get osteoporosis, you are at higher risk if you are:
- A female over 50
- Have a family history of osteoporosis
- Have a thin or small frame
- Are Caucasian or Asian
- Have had broken bones after 50
- Use certain medications, such as corticosteroids (for asthma or arthritis, for example)
- Drink 3 or more alcoholic beverages every day
- Smoke cigarettes
I have the family history, was very thin until my thyroid problem was corrected at age 38, I'm Caucasian, and I was a smoker for 22 years. I had a lot of strikes against me, but I was able to get an early diagnosis.
If not diagnosed while it can still be remedied, osteoporosis can cause many problems and much pain in later life. Studies show that many elderly people never fully recover from hip surgery and that some die from complications directly related to that surgery.
If you think you are at risk, do try to convince your doctor to order the bone scan even if you aren't post-menopausal. Lots of times, insurance companies will pay for an early test the test if the doctor thinks it's necessary. The earlier osteoporosis is caught, the easier it is to halt or even reverse.