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If you are concerned about osteoporosis, have family members with osteoporosis or have recently experienced a fracture with little or no trauma, further evaluation at University of Missouri Health Care's Bone Health Program will help you assess your risk of osteoporosis. Maintaining optimal bone health improves your quality of life and decreases the risk of future fractures.

older couple enjoying exercise

Our comprehensive program will evaluate, screen, diagnosis, treat and educate you regarding your bone health. Our team also includes exercise and physical therapy services as well as nutritionists to build a personalized treatment plan. We want to help you by building and maintaining your bone health, and reducing your risk of future fracture.

Why is Bone Health important?

Strong bones support our bodies and allow us to move. Bones protect our organs from injury and store vital minerals we need to live. Weak bones can break and cause pain leading to difficulty walking without assistance. Bones begin to weaken early in life without the right diet and exercise, and many people have weak bones without knowing it. This is a bone disease called osteoporosis, which can lead to bones breaking with minimal or no trauma causing pain that leads to difficulty walking without assistance from a cane, walker or a wheelchair.  

The consequences of weak bones include osteoporosis and fragility fractures. Over time, bones lose important minerals like calcium causing them to become brittle and fragile. Brittle bones can break easily, which can be life-altering and even deadly. Those breaks are known as fragility fractures and can occur with little or no trauma, and stem from osteoporosis. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and one in four men age 50 and older will have a broken bone related to osteoporosis.

Fracture Liaison Service

MU Health Care's Bone Health Program also features our fracture liaison service that is a dedicated service to act as the link between our patients and our orthopedic service for those who present with a fragility fracture. Our aim is to prevent future fragility fractures following national osteoporosis guidelines. This provides a fracture risk assessment and provides a comprehensive care model to address the underlying bone disease of osteoporosis.

Initial Visit

During your first visit, we’ll review your medical and fracture history, evaluate your risks for osteoporosis, develop a personalized plan of care and discuss treatment options. 

Questions we may ask:

  • Have you had a bone density test before? If so, please let us know when it was done and bring a copy for our records.
  • Have you ever been told you have bone loss, osteoporosis or osteopenia? 
  • Do you take calcium or vitamin D supplements?
  • Have you had any other broken bones after age 49?

Understanding Bone Health

To understand your current bone health, we’ll use a combination of the following methods:

  • Medical History: We’ll ask you questions relating to any personal or family history of fractures and other risk factors for osteoporosis. It’s important to let your provider know which medications you’ve been taking during the last 10 years due to certain medication risks of low bone mass and fractures. 
  • Physical Examination: Your provider will give you a limited physical exam with emphasis on the spine. Many fragility fractures go unnoticed by patients. Loss of height can be a good indicator of vertebral fragility fractures. 
  • Lab Tests: Some lab tests are specific to bone health. We’ll check your medical records to see if any of these have been performed in the last six months, and if not, we’ll perform them. 
  • X-rays: An X-ray can help us determine if you’ve had any fragility fractures of the spine.
  • Bone Density Scan: If any tests indicate probable loss of bone density, and you haven’t had a bone density scan in the last year, we’ll make arrangements for you to have one. This will help us confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis and document the severity of bone loss. 

Medication

Your treatment plan might include medications for osteoporosis, and those fall into one of two categories: antiresorptive medications to slow bone loss or anabolic drugs to increase the rate of bone formation. 

Antiresorptive Medications: Bisphosphonates, calcitonin, Prolia (denosumab), estrogen and estrogen agonists/antagonists are antiresorptive medicines. Because your bones are continually losing and replacing tissue, these medications work to slow down the pace of tissue being lost while your body continues to generate new bone tissue. 

Anabolic Drugs: Currently, Forteo (teriparatide), Tymlos (abaloparatide) and Evenity (romosozumab) are the only osteoporosis medications approved by the FDA to rebuild bone. With the ability to increase bone mass and strength, the goal of anabolic drugs is to build healthier bones while reducing the risk of fractures.