Archive for June 25th, 2011
Saturday, June 25th, 2011
I have one patient who had a bone density scan just after her fortieth birthday, a time when many doctors are still reluctant to send a patient for the test. Ruth had a lifetime of excellent diet and exercise habits, but was concerned because her mother had osteoporosis. Since she felt strongly about it, I wrote the referral. The scan revealed that she already had low bone density. And her real danger zone—menopause— was still years away!
With this knowledge, she stepped up her efforts to prevent further bone loss. She increased the amount of time she spent exercising, and began taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, along with a multivitamin-and-trace-minerals supplement, aiming to get herself back to the density of a healthy 30-year-old with peak bone mass.
Although encroaching osteoporosis in such a young woman is alarming, to me the truly scary part of this story is thinking about what would have happened if Ruth hadn’t had the bone scan. Without knowing she needed to take positive steps now, and staying on top of her progress, I fear she would have ended up with a fracture before long, possibly before menopause. She would have lost a great deal of height, found an ever-increasing forward curve in her upper back, perhaps suffered bone pain, and maybe would have had to curtail her many and varied activities. Not only did the bone density scan perhaps save Ruth’s life, it surely saved her lifestyle.