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Osteoporosis: A Silent Disease

Good Health interviews Jessica Rachel Starr, MD, endocrinologist at HSS about living with osteoporosis.  

Osteoporosis is often called a “silent” disease because people typically have no symptoms. They often don’t know they have it until they break a bone in an unexpected way. Osteoporosis develops when bone mineral density and bone mass decrease. This can lead to weakened bones and an increased risk of a fracture. The hips, spine and wrist are most susceptible.

Earlier screening is recommended for women with certain risk factors for bone loss, such as a family history of fractures or the use of certain medications such as steroids. Those who consumed very little calcium in younger years, had an eating disorder, smoke or consume excessive amounts of alcohol may also be vulnerable to accelerated bone loss, Dr. Starr noted. Anyone with a diagnosis of either osteoporosis or osteopenia should talk to her doctor to develop a strategy to prevent further bone loss, she said. The plan may include lifestyle changes and possibly medication. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treating osteoporosis,” she explained. “Different medications are available, and treatment should be tailored to the needs of each individual.”

This article appeared in the June 7-June 13 print issue of Good Health.