Newswise – A guide to osteoporosis for primary care providers to better treat their patients has been published in the journal of Family medicine by clinicians and researchers at the University of Texas at Houston Health Sciences Center (UTHealth).
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones, making them weak and brittle. In some cases, a fall or movement such as bending or rolling over in bed can cause a fracture. It is commonly seen in older people, especially women, and more than 53 million people in the United States have osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing it.
“I think it is important to increase awareness among patients and their primary care providers about this disease,” said Nahid Rianon, MD, DrPH, geriatrician and associate professor of family medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and lead author of the study. “Half of patients with osteoporosis are looked after by their primary care physicians, so we really need to educate these physicians so they can make better decisions about their patient care.
Most patients can fend off fractures and associated pain as a normal part of aging. However, Rianon says that while loss of bone mass is a normal sign of aging, experiencing painful and broken bones, such as those associated with osteoporosis, is not normal and, most of the time, preventable.
“There are things we can all do now to reduce our risk of getting this disease. There is a way to age healthy, but it’s about knowing the risks – as a patient and as a provider. For example, if you have high blood pressure or unmanaged diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. If a primary care physician understands this, then maybe we can identify it early and prevent someone from developing this disease, ”said Rianon.
Rianon hopes this guide will help raise awareness of the disease and intensify discussions between primary care physicians and their patients.
“Osteoporosis is not part of normal aging. It can be very painful, and a bone fracture often becomes the cause of addiction and indicates the onset of frailty in an elderly person. If doctors know how to fully assess and manage care for this disease, we can hopefully help a lot of people, ”she said.
Jude des Bordes, MBChB, DrPH, family medicine researcher at McGovern Medical School contributed to the guide.