Osteoporosis is a condition that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density, causing bones to become fragile. This occurs when bone is no longer replaced as quickly as it is removed by the body. The Osteoporosis Prevention Program is designed for both men and women to optimize bone health and density. Good bone density can help prevent fractures of the weight bearing bones, specifically the hip and spine.
Patients who are at particular risk include those with a family history, previous fractures, smokers, presence of rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis, poor exercise habits, and calcium and vitamin D deficiencies. Maintenance of optimal health requires being active and also proactive. A qualified physician can ascertain risk and recommend specific protocols to optimize bone health and significantly decrease risk of fractures.
A bone mineral density test should be performed on anyone with a high risk. The DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan is a safe and reliable method for evaluating bone mass of the hip and spine. The typical recommendation is to get a baseline done around menopause as this is the time bone loss can occur more rapidly unless you have already had a previous fracture. DEXA scans (bone density scans) are recommended every 1-2 years after the initial one.
Another test that can be done in conjunction with the DEXA are the Bone Resorption Tests, which are urine tests to help measure the rate at which bone is breaking down. This test can be done at your first visit and then again at 4 months to see if the loss of bone has stopped or maintained based on treatment recommendations made at that time. If the loss of bone continues as shown by the 2nd follow up test then the doctor can make changes to your current regime. Due to the 1-2 year period wait time between your bone density tests this allows for a proactive approach.
Vitamin D levels have been directly correlated with bone fracture. Most people have been shown to be deficient upon testing. Vitamin D can be checked through a simple blood test and once the knowledge of your levels have been determined the correct recommendation of Vitamin D supplementation can be given.
CRP is another blood test that can be helpful in determining the level of inflammation that is occurring in the body. Inflammation can accelerate bone loss, which makes the test very useful. This information will not pinpoint where the inflammation is occurring, but specific recommendations can be made to directly lower inflammation, thereby lowering the level of CRP and the amount of bone loss.
A complete assessment of bone health is made with the use of past and current DEXA scans, comprehensive blood tests, including thyroid function, Vitamin D, high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein, Homocysteine, and possibly, IgG Food Intolerance Testing. The information from the combined labs will help your naturopathic doctor determine risk of fracture and also design an individualized program to prevent further bone loss and build bone density.
Your individual program for bone health will include nutritional and exercise guidelines, including a discussion and recommendation of the best nutritional supplements for bone health. Bone health and density maintenance requires treatment over many years and your doctor will give you recommendations for further evaluation as you make positive changes for the future.