Osteoporosis: Signs, Symptoms and Prevention

Credits: HackensackUMC Mountainside

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of old bone does not keep up with the removal of new bone.  As a result, the bones become weak, brittle and fracture easily.

Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states, “A woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equivalent to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined.  And a man age 50 or older is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.” Unfortunately, osteoporosis often is not diagnosed until after a fracture.  Fractures commonly occur in the hip and spine.

Here are some interesting statistics about osteoporosis:

Sign Up for E-News

1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass

Each year approximately 80,000 men will have a hip fracture

Men are more likely than women to die within 1 year after a hip fracture


There are many risk factors for developing osteoporosis.  Some are modifiable and some are not. Some Non-Modifiable risk factors include:

Sex-Women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men

Age- As we age our risk for osteoporosis increases

Race- People of Caucasian or Asian decent are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis

Family History- The risk of osteoporosis increases in those with siblings or parents with a history of hip fractures due to osteoporosis

Body Mass Index- Those with a low body weight have low bone mass

Some Modifiable risk factors include:

Hormone Levels- Sex hormone levels change as we age.  In Women, Estrogen decreases during menopause and during cancer treatments. Testosterone levels in Men decrease as they age and treatments for prostate cancer decrease testosterone levels.  High levels of thyroid hormone also play a role in bone loss.  The overactivity of other glands such as the parathyroid and adrenal glands can also lead to osteoporosis.

Dietary Factors- Low calcium intake decreases bone density and cause early bone loss leading to an increased for fractures.  People with eating disorders such as Anorexia have low food intake which decreases the amount of calcium ingested.

Gastrointestinal Surgery- When the size of the stomach is reduced, the amount of surface area to absorb calcium and other nutrients decreases.

Medications- Long term use of steroids interferes with bone rebuilding. Some other medications that can lead to bone loss include some anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, gastric reflux medications (proton pump inhibitors), cancer medications and transplant anti-rejection medications.

Lifestyle- Those who live a sedentary lifestyle (lack of weight bearing exercise) are at increased risk for developing osteoporosis.  Excessive alcohol intake (more than 2 drinks per day) and tobacco use also lead to bone loss.


As stated earlier, osteoporosis usually is not diagnosed until after a fracture occurs.  The most common areas affected are the spine (vertebrae) and hip. 

Signs of a Back (vertebral) fracture:

Acute localized pain after a fall or minor trauma, the pain may be sharp, nagging or dull and is exacerbated by movement. 

Gradual loss of height.  A person loses 2-3cm of height after each vertebral compression fracture leading to a progressive curving of the spine causing a hunched forward posture (kyphosis)

Signs of a Hip Fracture:

Pain in the groin, buttock, anterior thigh, medial thigh, medial knee during weight bearing or attempted weight bearing after a fall or minor trauma.

Decreased hip range of motion.

Pain on palpation of the affected area.

Difficulty with balance.


A Bone Mineral Density Measurement- Dual Energy X ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan is used to diagnose osteoporosis. The bone density is measured by a machine using low levels of x rays to determine the proportion of minerals in your bones.  The patient lies on a padded table as the scanner passes over their hip, wrist and spine.  All women 65 years of age and older and all men 70 years of age and older regardless of risk factors should have a DEXA scan to screen for osteoporosis.  Those at risk for osteoporosis include younger post-menopausal women with risks for fracture, adults with hip or vertebral compression fractures and adults with conditions associated with low bone mass or bone loss.  Adults taking medications associated with low bone mass or bone loss, anyone being considered for osteoporosis treatment and anyone taking osteoporosis treatment should have a DEXA scan.


There are several treatments for the management of osteoporosis. 


The most commonly prescribed medications for osteoporosis. This class of drugs work by preventing the breakdown of bone.

Alendronate (Fosamax)

Risedronate (Actonel)

Zolendronic Acid (Reclast)

Ibandronate (Boniva)

Hormone Related Therapy-

Raloxifen (Evista) is a treatment for women that mimics estrogen’s maintenance of bone density without some of the risks.  Raloxifen decreases the risk of some types of breast cancer but can cause hot flashes and increased risk for blood clots.

Less common osteoporosis medications

These are used if the more common medications are not well tolerated and include:

Teriparatide (Forteo)- This medication is similar to parathyroid hormone and works by stimulating new bone growth.  Forteo is an injection under the skin daily and can only be given for up to 2 years. 

Denosumab (Prolia)- Prolia targets a different step in bone remodeling than bisphosphonates.  It is an injection under the skin given every 6 months and side effects include back and muscle pain. You must discuss with your doctor which treatment is best for you.


If you have not been diagnosed with Osteoporosis there are some steps you can take to decrease your risk of developing it later in life. 

Smoking cessation and decreasing alcohol intake can reduce your risk of osteoporosis. 

Practicing fall prevention by wearing low healed, non-slip shoes; keeping rooms brightly lit; checking for electrical cords, area rugs and slippery surfaces and removing them; placing grab bars inside and outside the shower/tub. 

Changes in your diet can also help keep your bones strong and healthy. 

Increasing Calcium intake has been shown to be protective against osteoporosis.

Men and Women 18-50 y/o should be consuming 1000mg of calcium daily

Women 50y/o and older should be consuming 1200mg calcium daily

Men 70y/o and older should be consuming 1200mg calcium daily

Foods that are rich in calcium include: dark green, leafy vegetables; canned salmon/sardines with bones; soy products; calcium fortified cereals and orange juice

Calcium supplements are also available but those who are older than 50 should not consume more than 2000mg calcium daily.

You should consult with your doctor regarding which level of calcium supplementation is right for you because too much calcium can actually increase your risk of heart disease and kidney stones.

Increasing your Vitamin D intake is also a great way to improve your bone health. Vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb calcium. Sunlight actually activates vitamin D in your body.  Vitamin D supplements are also available. You can consult with your doctor to check for low vitamin D levels and to assess your need for additional supplementation.

Let’s not forget about Exercise.  Exercise is an excellent way to build strong bones and to slow bone loss.  You should combine strength training exercises with weight bearing exercises to achieve a good result. Walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skipping rope and skiing are all excellent weight bearing exercises.  Please remember swimming, cycling and exercising on machines such as ellipticals are good cardiovascular exercise but are low impact and not as helpful in improving bone health.



National Osteoporosis Foundation http://nof.org

National Institutes of Health: Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases, National Resource Center

www.medicinenet.com- Osteoporosis slide show: Are your bones at risk


About the Author

Monique Hamilton, MD, practices Internal Medicine with HackensackUMC Mountainside. For more information, visit www.mountainsidedocs.com

HackensackUMC Mountainside, part of the Hackensack University Health Network, provides patients immediate access to innovative and effective treatment alternatives at specialized centers within the hospital that focus on imaging, women’s health, cancer care, surgery, obesity, stroke and chronic kidney disease. The 365-bed community hospital also serves as a learning center via its nursing school and residency programs in internal medicine, family practice and dentistry.  HackensackUMC Mountainside is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the NJ State Department of Health and Senior Services and is one of only a few community hospitals licensed by the State to perform emergency cardiac angioplasty. To learn more about HackensackUMC Mountainside visit www.mountainsidehosp.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Ironbound Residents Plead for Parking at Zoning Board Meeting

July 15, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - The city zoning board of adjustment yesterday approved variances for one of three new residential Ironbound developments despite a group of residents voicing concerns over parking.

The board approved variances for YK Group Development Consulting, based in Newark and Lakewood, to build a four-story 28-residential unit development at 526-532 Mulberry St. with 16 on-site parking ...

Safety in Numbers: NJ Computer Scientist Races to Develop Unhackable Code to Protect Everyone’s Data

July 15, 2018

Newark boasts a large – and growing – tech force. Brainwalk, an occasional series, will introduce you to some of its rising stars.

You’ve seen the ominous headlines. Armies of hackers working at the behest of hostile nation-states 24/7 to steal intelligence from our defense agencies. Apolitical hacker-thieves breaking into companies to cop trade secrets and our credit ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 18, 7:00 PM

Hospital Conference Room 2 (Ground Floor), Glen Ridge

Becoming a Parent

Health & Wellness

Sat, July 21, 3:00 PM

Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, Little Falls

Sports, Medicine, and the Opioid Crisis

Education Health & Wellness Sports

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 18, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

Montclair Police Blotter: Business Burglary, DWI Arrests and More

July 8, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The following blotter was released on July 3, 2018 from the Montclair Police Department:

06-28-2018 (Porter Place) Mr. Lonnial Hargrove (48yoa from Irvington) was arrested and charged with
06-29-2018 (Bellevue Avenue) Mr. Avi Shvetz, 52yoa from Montclair, was arrested and charged with
DWI after striking a parked vehicle.
06-30-2018 (Lackawanna Plaza) Mr.

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

Murphy Administration Takes Action to Help Smokers Quit

July 18, 2018

Eliminates Prior Approval for Medicaid Tobacco Cessation Medications; Counseling Options to be Expanded

July 16, 2018

(TRENTON) – The Murphy administration on Monday announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death ...