Osteoporosis Clinic

A consultative service that helps patients at-risk for osteoporosis, including those on chronic steroids, and patients that have experienced recent fractures.

Osteoporosis affects...

...twenty-five million people each year in the United States and of those individuals, 1.5 million experience bone fractures. In fact, 70 percent of all fractures in people older than 45 years are related to osteoporosis. The morbidity and mortality associated with a fracture is quite high. Of patients suffering from a hip fracture, one-quarter of them will die within the year; one-half of them will be unable to walk without assistive devices; and one-quarter will require long-term confinement in an assisted-living or long-term care facility.

Financially, osteoporosis and resultant fractures will lead to costs over $13 billion in the United States alone.

Women are at the highest risk for osteoporosis. Up to 20 percent of a woman's bone mass can be lost after menopause. However, osteoporosis can affect men as well. In the United States, 8 million women and 2 million men will suffer from this disease and 15 million more are found to have low bone density, placing them at an increased risk for osteoporosis.

The Osteoporosis Clinic...

...at Gundersen Health System can assist in the prevention of the condition in at-risk individuals. It can also screen for underlying disease processes that can predispose to osteoporosis. The clinic can diagnose osteoporosis in individuals that might be at-risk and educate them about osteoporosis, including management strategies. The clinic can initiate treatment, especially in those with recent fractures, and help to prevent recurrent fractures and decrease the chance of morbidity and mortality.

Increased risks of osteoporosis include...

  • Decrease in the estrogen hormone, i.e., post-menopausal
  • Lack of calcium and Vitamin D in diet
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, use of certain medicines
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Female
  • Advanced age
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Low testosterone levels in men

The first visit will include a complete medical history and a focused physical exam by a physician who specializes in osteoporosis. Appropriate tests may be ordered to determine the severity of bone loss and potential causes of osteoporosis. Tests may include bone densitometry, blood or urine tests, and other X-rays, as appropriate.

Drug therapy may be initiated and education on osteoporosis will be provided to the patient. Referral to the Gundersen Nutrition Clinic and/or Physical Therapy may also be coordinated. The treatment plan will generally include recommendations for:

  1. Optimizing calcium/Vitamin D intake through diet and/or supplements;
  2. Counseling on prevention of falls;
  3. An exercise program to improve balance, muscle strength, etc.; and,
  4. Using medications to help maintain bone integrity and to decrease risk of fracture.

A follow-up consultation will be scheduled with the osteoporosis physician or the primary care physician, as appropriate. Generally, bone densitometry is repeated in one to two years to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the treatment program.

Increased risks of osteoporosis include...

  • Decrease in the estrogen hormone, i.e., post-menopausal
  • Lack of calcium and Vitamin D in diet
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, use of certain medicines
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Female
  • Advanced age
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Low testosterone levels in men

Osteoporosis is...

...a common condition that mainly affects older women and is characterized by a decrease in bone mass due to the decline in the female hormone, estrogen, which helps maintain bone strength. As estrogen levels decrease, bones become porous and fragile, ultimately, leading to fractures.

Over 40 percent of Caucasian women over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in her lifetime. Locations that are most likely to suffer fractures include the back, hips and wrists.

Osteoporosis is often referred to as the "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without any symptoms. Oftentimes, the first sign of having osteoporosis is when you experience a disabling bone fracture from a bump or a fall.

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