Osteoporosis is now considered one of the most underdiagnosed and undertreated conditions in this country. Doctors say it is underdiagnosed because many who have it fail to get a bone density test, sometimes even after they suffer a fracture. As Nancy Naeve Brown tells us Avera Marshall is making it more convenient for people in Southwest Minnesota to find out earlier if they have thinning bones.
Pam Peyton is the manager of Imaging Center at the Avera Marshall Medical Center so when the hospital got this brand new DXA bone density scanner in September she volunteered to be the test patient for training purposes for the radiology techs.
Pam says, "I know about bone health, I've been taking calcium and vitamin D supplements and exercising, although not as much as I probably should, but feeling like I have a normal healthy lifestyle.
So imagine her surprise when she found out after the scan she has osteopenia a precursor to osteoporosis which is the thinning of the bone.
Pam says, "For me it has opened my eyes to considering alternatives and going on some kind of therapy so I don't end up with osteoporosis."
OB/GYN Dr. Kevin Gildner with Avera Medical Group Marshall says osteoporosis has quickly become a silent epidemic in this country that affects both men and women which make screening like this so essential to catch it early like Pam did.
Dr. Gildner says, "The risk factors are increased age, menopause previous fractures and you see in literature a list of non-traumatic fractures. For example, someone that slips off the sidewalk and breaks a bone that is abnormal and those people need screening."
We are used to getting weighed when we go to the doctor but when you come to get your DXA screening at Avera Marshall they will also measure your height because it could be a sign you are losing bone.
Dr. Kevin Gildner says, "A little known fact about bone loss; when you reach menopause you start losing bone mass at 1-1 1/2 % per year. So within 10 years you've lost 10-15 % of your bone mass."
The previous school of thought was bone density screening should start at age 65, but Dr. Gildner says Pam proves it should start earlier in some cases. Especially if you have osteoporosis in your family and Pam does as well as bariatric patients and anyone with chronic intestinal diseases, like Crohn's, because the body can't absorb calcium like it should. Smokers are also at higher risk for osteoporosis.
So if you fit into any of those categories, make an appointment with DXA at Avera Marshall, lie down now before it's too late to lay down new bone. Pam is so happy she did.
Dr. Gildner says exercise and diet is also an important component to keeping bone mass. He says a vigorous workout that includes weight training is key.