Osteoporosis

Overview

The bones that make up your skeleton are living, growing tissue. As old bone tissue dies, your body is constantly making new, strong bone tissue. Osteoporosis is a condition in which old bone is not replaced 
by new bone fast enough. Bones become weak and brittle and may fracture easily – even from stretching or coughing. The bone specialists at Aurora offer the latest osteoporosis treatment options and bone density tests to help you feel stronger, sooner.

Osteoporosis Symptoms

Osteoporosis symptoms can take years to show up. But once significant bone loss has occurred, signs of osteoporosis may include:

  • A stooped or curved posture when sitting or standing
  • Height loss over time
  • Back pain
  • Collapsed or fractured vertebra
  • Easily occurring bone fractures

Diagnosis

If you’re 50 or older and you’ve had a broken bone or spinal fracture, you should get an osteoporosis test. Testing may include a detailed health history, physical exam and blood work. Your doctor may also order a bone density scan, or dexa test, which is a special type of X-ray that measures bone mass and thickness. In addition, an X-ray, MRI or CT scan can show any new or existing fractures.

If these tests show significant signs of osteoporosis, you may need to take vitamin D and calcium supplements, as well as medication to increase bone density. Losing excess weight and exercising can also improve the stability and strength of your bones, reducing bone loss.

Complications

Osteoporosis can cause or occur alongside several other health conditions, such as:

  • Cervical spinal stenosis and myelopathy (cervical spondylotic myelopathy): A narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck area, which may cause your spinal cord to become compressed or damaged. Symptoms may include pain, numbness, tingling, balance problems, muscle weakness and dizziness.

  • Compression fracture/vertebral fracture: A break or rupture in the vertebrae (the bones that make up the spine), sometimes referred to as a collapsed vertebra. The most common sign is severe back pain.

  • Hypocalcemic tetany: A condition in which extremely low blood levels of calcium (hypocalcemia) cause involuntary muscle contractions. If left untreated, it can lead to osteoporosis.

  • Radiculopathy: Pressure on a nerve root that results in pain, weakness and numbness. Depending on the location of the nerve, you may also have difficulty controlling specific muscles.

Services & Treatment

If your doctor diagnoses you with one of these complications, you may need additional treatment. Your osteoporosis treatment options may include:
 
  • Pain medications 

  • Spinal fusion surgery: Two vertebrae are permanently fixed together to reduce pain, increase spinal stability and stop the formation of bone spurs.

  • Spinal nerve block: An anesthetic drug is injected near or directly into your spinal nerve. Spinal nerve blocks can provide pain relief and are sometimes used as a diagnostic tool to determine the source of your pain.

  • Spinal stabilization: Your doctor implants rods, screws or locking plates in your spinal column. For less severe fractures, an orthotic vest or brace may be used instead.

  • Vertebroplasty: Your doctor injects a medical-grade substance called bone cement, which "glues" the spine in its proper position to reduce pain and bone deformity.

  • Kyphoplasty: First a balloon is inserted into the affected area to decompress your spine and allow you to regain lost height. Then your doctor will inject bone cement to stabilize your vertebrae. 

Osteoporosis treatment is available at convenient clinic locations in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Green Bay, and throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

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When you have degenerative disc disease, the Aurora Back and Spine Program makes it easier for you to get back to the things that matter most. With a single entry point and your own care coordinator, you’ll be connected to an integrated team of specialists all working together on your personalized treatment plan. Learn more about our program locations in eastern Wisconsin:

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