Did you know men are at risk for developing osteoporosis before the age of 70? Long-term lifestyle habits, medications, and medical conditions place younger men at a higher risk for osteoporosis than many realize. You can slow bone loss and reduce your chances of getting osteoporosis with a few changes and a visit to your doctor. Bone health in men is important, which is why our experts at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital want you to understand why prevention, early detection and treatment of osteoporosis in men is crucial.
Male Osteoporosis Statistics
- Men (older than 50) are more likely to get osteoporosis than prostate cancer.
- 1 in 4 men will have a bone break after 50.
- Men are more likely to die within a year after a hip fracture by nearly 33%.
- Men are 9 times more likely to break a bone than women.
- Millions of men are at risk for osteoporosis in America.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, or “porous bone,” is a loss of bone mass and bone minerals. Bones are living tissue. They regularly shed and regrow throughout our lives. However, with osteoporosis, bone breakdown continues, but no new bone growth occurs, making the bones brittle, weak, and thin. Simply coughing is enough to fracture a bone. Common fractures occur in the hip, wrist and vertebrae. Osteoporosis in both men and women requires long-term care, management and possibly medication, especially for the elderly.
There are two types of osteoporosis: primary osteoporosis and secondary osteoporosis.
Primary osteoporosis is loss of bone strength naturally without a chronic illness or other risk factors. It is usually caused by age and a reduction in testosterone. Examples include:
- Idiopathic: Osteoporosis from an unknown source. This can happen with the elderly, children or adults.
- Type 2 or ‘senile osteoporosis’: The bone breakdown to bone growth ratio is unbalanced, which can occur with aging.
Secondary osteoporosis is accelerated bone loss because of another medical condition, genetics, medications, or lifestyle choices.
Risk Factors For Osteoporosis In Men
Although the exact medical cause for osteoporosis is unknown, there are a number of contributing factors that can lead to primary and secondary osteoporosis.
Our lifestyle choices and naturally occurring life changes affect our health in many ways. Some of these increase a man’s chances of developing osteoporosis at a younger age. These include:
- Age: males 50 years or older
- Body Weight: having a low body-mass index
- Exercise: physical inactivity creates weaker bones
- Habits: excessive caffeine and alcohol use; smoking
- Nutrition: a calcium and vitamin D deficiency due to malabsorption or poor diet
- Family History: having a male family member with osteoporosis
The most common causes of secondary osteoporosis from medical conditions are:
- Endocrine disorders like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and eating disorders
- Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
- Renal disorders like kidney disease
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, gastric bypass surgery, and celiac disease
- Blood disorders like multiple myeloma
- Hormone disorders such as hypogonadism (low testosterone)
- Lung disorders like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and asthma
Medications taken for other chronic conditions can create a greater risk of developing osteoporosis in men. Some of these medications are:
- Corticosteroids, and steroids for asthma or rheumatoid arthritis
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Hormone treatments
- Chemotherapy drugs
Some men with osteoporosis may not develop any symptoms, while others may experience bone and muscle pain, particularly in the back. A collapsed vertebra may also cause severe pain, decrease height or create deformity in the spine. In fact, fractures, loss of height, or posture changes are common symptoms of undiagnosed osteoporosis.
The American College of Physicians recommends osteoporosis screenings for men before the age of 65, especially if they have multiple risk factors, and to continue to screen for secondary causes of bone loss.
How is Osteoporosis In Men Diagnosed?
Men and women develop osteoporosis at the same rate after the age of 70. However, men can also get osteoporosis at a younger age, which is why early detection is so important.
Diagnosis of osteoporosis in men can be made by a doctor in multiple ways:
Tell your doctor about previous fractures, loss of height or weight, weakness or muscle pain, back pain, a family history of male osteoporosis, medical conditions and lifestyle habits.
Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam to look for a change in posture or height, muscle strength (like standing without the use of your arms), balance, and how you walk.
Tests And Labs
Besides routine screenings, your doctor may order:
- Labs including urine and blood workups
- Bone Mineral Density test (BMD)
The BMD test is painless and usually done on your hip or spine. It uses one of two low-dose x-rays called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans. The BMD test will help your doctor test the minerals in your bones to determine if you have osteoporosis and can help predict future fracture risks. BDM tests are an important way of not only screening for osteoporosis or future osteoporosis, but also tracking its progression.
Treatments Available For Osteoporosis
Treatments for osteoporosis in men and women usually involve medication, a change in daily activities, and treatment of the underlying medical conditions contributing to osteoporosis. Medications for osteoporosis may include:
- Bisphosphonates like Boniva which slow bone loss.
- Teriparatides, like Forteo, for severe osteoporosis and bone-building
- Testosterone replacement therapy for conditions like hypogonadism
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements, which can reduce fractures for men over 50 by 12%
If you have osteoporosis, the National Osteoporosis Foundation offers support and resources to help you manage this disorder. The Midwest Orthopedic Hospital also offers support and treatment plans for a wide range of osteoporosis issues in multiple locations.
5 Ways To Prevent Osteoporosis
You can do a lot to prevent osteoporosis and improve your bone health. Make sure you do the following regularly:
- Talk with your doctor about bone density screenings and your diet.
- Do weight-bearing exercises four days per week, such as walking, hiking, jogging and dancing.
- Do strengthening exercises two or three days per week.
- Refrain from smoking and drinking excess alcohol and caffeine.
- Know your underlying medicinal or medical condition risk factors.
If you’re at risk for osteoporosis or experiencing symptoms, speak with your primary care physician or make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists.
At MOSH, we believe everybody deserves top-quality care. Know that wherever you receive your initial treatment, the MOSH orthopedic surgeons and orthopedic rehabilitation team are here to get you back to doing the activities you love. When you schedule an appointment with MOSH, you can be confident you are getting the best care for osteoporosis, bone health, and fractures.