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(ARA) - Of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, 80 percent are women, and having a mother with osteoporosis puts a daughter particularly at risk for fractures.
Priscilla Turner, 67, of Memphis, Tenn., knows this risk all too well. Her 90-year-old mother, Jewell Fondren, suffers from osteoporosis (a disease that causes bone to become weak and susceptible to fracture). During the past 30 years, Fondren has experienced a hip fracture, spinal fractures and has a hunched back that may have been caused by multiple spinal fractures. Fondren, who lives with her daughter, has difficulty walking, cannot bend and finds her clothes don't fit well because of her hunched back.
Two years ago, Turner seemed to be heading toward the same fate as her mother when she suffered from back pain. Turner saw her doctor and discovered she had a spinal fracture. She was also diagnosed with osteopenia or low bone mineral density that can lead to osteoporosis.
"I just thought I was getting older," she says. "I didn't know my bones were breaking, but when my doctor told me I had a spinal fracture, I was very surprised."
Like Turner, the estimated 44 million Americans at risk for osteoporosis are often unaware that they have the disease until they break a bone, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). However, today more information is known about the risk factors for osteoporosis and fractures.
If you have low bone mineral density coupled with one or more other risk factors, you are at increased risk of having an osteoporosis-related fracture within the next 10 years, according to a recent publication by the World Health Organization (WHO). These risk factors include a previous fracture, a parent who has had a hip fracture, smoking, taking steroid medications, drinking three or more glasses of alcohol daily and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or from a disorder strongly associated with osteoporosis.
Less was known about osteoporosis years ago when Turner's mother was prescribed pain pills and bed rest to manage her osteoporosis-related spinal fractures. Treatments are now available to help strengthen bones, and new procedures have been developed to repair spinal fractures.
When Turner experienced her spinal fracture, her primary care physician referred her to orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Edward Pratt* of the Memphis Spine Center, who treated her spinal fracture with balloon kyphoplasty.
Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that can reduce back pain and correct the deformity caused by a spinal fracture. Small balloons are inserted and inflated in the fractured area of the spine to restore it back to its normal shape. After the balloons are deflated and removed, the cavity that has been created is filled with special bone cement, creating an internal cast.
Turner is exceedingly close to her mother. They spend afternoons on their parlor couch, reminiscing about their years together or sitting quietly as Turner reads and her mother knits. However, she knows that she does not want to suffer the same fate as her mother.
"Osteoporosis has kept Mama from being as mobile as I knew her years ago," Turner says. "Her movements are restricted. She cannot bend nor do many activities around the house. Her walking is limited."
When Turner experienced her second spinal fracture in 2007 and her activities became restricted due to the back pain, she decided to take action to avoid the same fate as her mother. She again had her fracture repaired with balloon kyphoplasty and now exercises regularly and takes prescription drugs and calcium supplements to prevent more bone loss.
"Today I do everything," she says. "We have a two-story home, and I am always going up and down the steps, and I couldn't do that before the (balloon kyphoplasty) procedures because of my back pain. I am also gardening again. I walk two miles a day and work out on weight machines. I am a very active person. I don't sit."
The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that one in two women and one in four men over age 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. "The world is beginning to gradually wake up and see that osteoporosis is a problem and that the best way to treat it is to stay ahead of it," says Dr. Pratt.
To learn more about osteoporosis, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation at www.nof.org. For more information about spinal fractures and balloon kyphoplasty, go to www.spinalfracture.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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