• 10 months ago

    Diagnosed with Osteoporosis at 40, now 46. Scared of treatment.

    Hi. I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis (DEXA) at 40. I'm now 46 and did not follow any treatment. Always scared of side-effects of medications and stuff I read on the Internet.

    Results were:
    Region, DMO (g/cm2), Adult-Young %, Adult-Young Z-Score
    L1-L4, 0.817, 67, -3.4
    Left Femur, 0.686, 62, -2.9
    Left Forearm, 0.868, 87, -1.3

    That was 6 years ago. I have not repeated the DEXA exam.

    During the last 6 years, I started to take Vitamin D supplements, since blood tests showed that I had vitamin D deficiency. Also, sporadically I took Calcium-Mg-D supplements.

    Did not take any Osteoporosis medications (Fosamax, etc.) because I'm scared of side-effects, specially after reading of possible issues with heart valves and stuff like that.

    I never had a fracture in my life. I'm not very active.

    I found out that I had osteoporosis by coincidence, because I went to the doctor due to pain in my legs. It seems that I suffer from something called "Restless Leg Syndrome". Blood tests showed slightly elevated levels of Calcium. As a result, the doctor ordered the DEXA. The DEXA was repeated at a different hospital a few months after the first one, and it confirmed that the results were correct.

    I would love receiving feedback about my situation, DEXA results at my age, how bad is my situation, how much can I achieve via supplements, diet and exercise; and also feedback about medications. Which medication is the latest & greatest with least side-effects, ...

    Thanks a lot in advance.


  • 9 months ago

    RE: Diagnosed with Osteoporosis at 40, now 46. Scared of treatment.

    Sigh.....where to start...Are you postmenopausal or were you postmenopausal when you had your first DXA? A diagnosis is not given to premenopausal women. That said..with your -3.6 and -2.9 Z-scores, you should've gone on a medication immediately. You will never regain what bone is lost unless you take Forteo, a medication that is made from the parathyroid hormone and is the only one that grows new bone.

    Please, please don't take as gospel all the stuff you read on the internet. The medications are evidence base results (as required by the FDA) and have been proven to strengthen bone. You will always read horror stories on the internet. People love to post about their negative experiences. When scores, particularly Z-scores, are as low as yours, your T-score (postmenopausal scores) will be lower.

    I suggest that you look at the ISCD website (www.iscd.org) for a facility near you that is accredited for another test. DXA testing does not, at this point, have to be accredited and anyone who does a day's training with the sales rep can perform a test. This is very risky and means you cannot bank on the results you get. NC has more accredited centers than any other state. OH is next. Some states don't have any.

    I would recommend that you immediately schedule a test. Then go on a medication. Forget any possible side effects. Everything you eat or touch has side effects. There are no guarantees. Osteo drugs strengthen bone. That's what you need. I can swear to you that your risk of having an osteoporotic fracture is much much greater than the chance you'll have of some dreaded side effect of the medication. You have to weight the risks vs the benefits.

    Go to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (www.nof.org) for a lot of verifiable information. They even give a comparison of the drugs for osteoporosis. There's a section on body movements, calcium, Vit D and an excellent Q&A section.

    You need calcium. The body doesn't make it. Your body now has all the bone it's ever going to have. Preserve it. A fracture can change your life drastically. Calcium is a mineral. There's no best calcium. Get a supplement with the USP symbol on the label. You need 1200 mg a day. The body will only absorb 600 mg. Anything over that is peed out. Take 600 mg at lunch and another at supper. Read the label to see what a dose is. For some calciums (citrates) it's 2 pills, for others (carbonate) it's 1 pill. Get one with Vit D added. That sends the calcium to the bones.

    Exercise - walk at least 1/2 hour 3 days a week. Or you can spend 4 hours a day on your feet. This is weight bearing. This stimulates the bone cells to grow. You want this. No toe touching, crunches, anything bending the waist or twisting side to side. Don't lift anything more than 10 lbs.

    If you haven't fractured a bone, that is very very good. That's what you want. Not necessarily a higher score. The goal is to keep what you have strong and minimize your chances of having a fracture.

    Don't be scared and quit reading unproven website stories. Good luck to you.
      • 9 months ago
        Bonebabe, thanks for your reply.

        I must clarify they I’m male. The results are from two Dexa exams taken at different hospitals, both confirming almost identical results. About 8+ years have passed since. I have not taken any medicines, only Vitamin D.

        No fractures yet.

        I will read about Forteo. 8 years ago, doctors prescribed Fosamax, which I did not take :(

        Is Forteo for male patients too?
      • 9 months ago
        OK - so knowing you're male changes things - not much, but changes.

        First - an osteoporosis diagnosis is not given to a male under age 50. That said, your test scores still show tremendously porous bones.

        Sex hormones play a HUGE part in bone growth and strength. To have such a low score at such a young age (after you've met your peak bone mass) is a red flag for something going on. You need to find out what caused your bones to be so fragile. That's where an endocrinologist comes in.

        A case in point. My brother was 41 when I did his bone density because we were tracking how men fared when compared to a Sahara heel ultrasound screening to a gold standard DXA. We wanted this info before we participated in health fairs with the Sahara machine. My brother's score was -2.9. That was a shocker because he lived in Manhatten and walked everywhere, ate well and had no chronic illnesses.

        I told him to go back to his doctor and get an RX for Actonel. He went back, the doctor said no, to wait 2 years and if the scores were still low, go to an expert. I explained that he'd started with the expert and to get the RX. He did, and his bones strengthened so that now he can scuba dive and volunteer to swim with the sharks at a local aquarium.

        But he did have further testing. Turns out that because he'd been a partyer in high school and college (during bone forming years) his testosterone was suppressed, blocking full bone mass attainment.

        So...it may be that you never reached your full bone mass or it could be that something is going on that is leaching calcium from your bones. You need to know this.

        Take a medication. The oral ones do have GI side effects on some people. There's also Reclast which is an annual infusion that is covered by your major medical (not drug) insurance and is hassle free. Forteo is for the frailest of the frail. Talk to your doctors about your situation.

        The bottom line is - you need a medication. Nothing you can do naturally is going to give you what you need.

        When you have your next DXA, go to one of the places you went to initially and stick with it for future tests. No matter what you're told, they can't reliably compare tests results from one place to another. Also Z and T-scores themselves don't indicate increase or decrease. That's a whole 'nuther posting.