We’ll rebalance your bone formation and degradation
Osteoporosis, also called bone loss, is one of the most common disorders in the later stages of life. It’s almost twice as common in women than in men. As you get older, the stability of your skeleton decreases and the risk of bone fractures increases. Spinal column, femoral neck and hand joint fractures are especially troublesome.
What is osteoporosis?
With osteoporosis, patients have low amounts of bone mass. The bone substance and structure break down excessively quickly and the stability of the bones decreases. This increases the risk of bone fractures.
Osteoporosis: causes of bone loss
The balance between the bones degrading and forming ensures that bone tissue is constantly renewed. There are many things that disrupt this balance and cause osteoporosis.
Firstly, age: as you get older, your bone mass generally decreases. This can lead to osteoporosis.
Gender hormones, oestrogen and testosterone, also influence the occurrence of osteoporosis. These play a special role in bone metabolism. A disruption in the function of the ovaries or testicles may lead to a gender hormone deficiency. In women, the lack of oestrogen during menopause presents a particularly high risk.
Additional causes for a drop in bone mass include a hyperactive thyroid and chronic inflammatory disorders such as asthma or rheumatism. An increase in cortisone due to numerous chronic disorders is another risk factor and may significantly reduce bone mass. Different types of inflammatory bowel disease or food intolerances reduce the amount of nutrients circulating the body. This type of nutrient deficiency can also be a cause of osteoporosis.
Symptoms: signs of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis often remains undetected for a long time as the bone loss first occurs silently, without any tangible pain or symptoms. Pain will only occur once a bone becomes fractured or the spine becomes deformed, which may be some of the first signs.
When an acute spinal fracture occurs, patients usually report sudden back pain and tension. A reduction in body height of more than 4cm can be another sign of osteoporosis. This is frequently accompanied by the so-called Tannenbaum phenomenon, where the skin has characteristic folds on the left and right of the spine.
Crucial for effective treatment: early diagnosis
The earlier osteoporosis is reliably established, the better. The symptoms and effects can then be minimised through targeted treatment.
How osteoporosis is determined
To recognise the risk of osteoporosis or osteoporosis itself, we first conduct an in-depth consultation with you. In this consultation, we’ll also thoroughly examine your family history. We then conduct a physical examination as well as additional tests. Measuring your bone density is especially important.
Bone density measurement provides precise details
Measuring bone density primarily serves to filter out patients with an increased risk of osteoporosis before any fractures occur.
The best examination is dual-energy x-ray densitometry (DEXA). It lets us precisely measure key points on the spine, femoral neck and underarm. You lie on the x-ray table, and an x-ray receiver measures the proportion of x-rays transmitted through the bone. The radiation exposure is minimal and the examination is safe and pain-free.
Osteoporosis: basic measures for treatment and prevention
Our spinal surgery specialists treat you individually, according to the severity of your osteoporosis. We can carry out conservative measures, such as movement therapy, muscle building exercises, dietary changes and medication. For severe bone fractures, we surgical treatment and rehabilitation may be required.
Whether we are treating or preventing osteoporosis, you should stay physically active regularly to build muscle strength and coordination. Make sure that you have a calcium-rich diet and go outside for at least 30 minutes each day. As an important source of vitamin D, sunlight helps build strong bones.
Conservative treatment methods
Osteoporosis: treatment through medication
Whether we can conduct medicinal therapy depends on several factors: bone density, family history, nicotine consumption, fall frequency and mobility. Vitamin D should be taken for osteoporosis as a basis.
Goal of treatment: to return home
Diagnosing the cause of falls, treating osteoporosis and rehabilitating patients are all part of care of the elderly. The goal is to increase patients’ walking ability so they can return to their home environment. At Schoen Clinic, this is achieved through a multi-disciplinary team of specialists, specially trained nurses and physiotherapists.
Through intensive, individually tailored treatment, on average around 80% of our patients return home after treatment. However, assistance from family members or professional outpatient nurses is often required.
Surgical treatment methods
Operative treatment: for a stable spine
For recent spinal fractures, severe pain and consequent reduced mobility, bone cement injection can help. Through this process, we can restraighten and stabilise the spine and reduce any spine curvature. For highly unstable fractures, the discs are stabilised using a minimally invasive screw-rod system. It is now possible to ensure the strength of these implants in osteoporotic bones using special techniques.
Femoral neck fracture: mobile through implants
Femoral neck fractures most often occur in older people who fall on their hips. Through surgery, the fracture is corrected and the bones stabilised. Our surgeons use state-of-the-art stable angle plates as well as special nails in this procedure. This lets you start physiotherapy immediately after surgery and become mobile and independent again.