Archive for the ‘Osteoporosis’ Category
Usually we operate on a Hip Fracture. We do that in order to: preserve Independent Living; or preserve independent ambulation in Assisted Living; or preserve assisted ambulation in a Care Facility; and always to preserve quality of life. But what if none of those goals are possible?
At the St Paul Geriatric Fracture Conference this month, it was proposed that alternative care to surgery is sometimes more humane and less costly to society – both laudable goals. The ideal care for a patient with a fractured hip is to thoroughly discuss all alternatives before proceeding to surgery.
Family and other caregivers should all join the patient for a relaxed discussion of the future, weighing quality of life issues radically changed by the usual loss of function / independence imposed by the fracture. Only after concensus is reached, should surgery proceed – if that is the chosen path.
Unfortunately, the clock is ticking. The likelihood of death, medical complications of the fracture, medical complications of surgery, and permanent disabilities begin to increase only 12 hours after fracture. Gathering all interested parties and making informed life-changing decisions within that time limit is very challenging.
Ideally the patient, family, care-givers and primary physician have discussed the possibility of fracture and come to tentative decisions about what sorts of care are desired. This is especially true for patients who already cannot ambulate, are becoming demented, or have a limited quality of life.
Involve the patient in the decision while he/she can still express his/her desires. Written Advanced Directives are ideally on file with physician and hospital. Allow the patient to Take Control of his/her Future.
My wife and I have discussed our desires with our children. We have advanced directives on file. You should too.
Jay Ginther, MD
“Why did I Fracture?” and “Why do I have Osteoporosis?” are common questions I hear from older women and men. They are taking Calcium and Vitamin D3, eating a diet with Protein, Fruits and Vegetables, and Exercising regularly. They are “doing everything right”, and still they have deteriorating bones. What is wrong?
The simple answer is “Birthday Disease” – too many birthdays. Increased Fracture Risk (Clinical Osteoporosis) is totally natural as we age. Women after Menopause, and men after age 70, lose 1-2% of their Bone Mineral Density (BMD), and more of their Bone Strength, every year.
When I was in Medical School, 40 years ago, that was the end of the story. Many older women (and some older men) became kyphotic (stooped over), fractured and fell, and either died or went to a nursing home for the rest of their lives. Then, there was nothing we could do to stop it. Today we can often prevent osteoporosis, fractures and misery.
Sometimes a person breaks a hip first, then they fall. This happens a lot more often than we realize. When the break is just below the ball of the hip, the fracture may have come before the fall. Moreover, that Fragility Fracture may have gradually developed over days or weeks.
How is it possible that a person does not realize that the hip is gradually crumbling? We call it a Stress Fracture when a crack gradually developes. Small cracks gradually getting bigger are usually not recognized until they are completely across the bone and it breaks, causing the patient to fall. Why?
The aching pain of a stress fracture is often too gradual to distinguish from arthritis pain until the break is complete and the whole bone collapses. The best way to see this process is to watch a video of the I-35W bridge collapsing in Minneapolis on 1st August 2007. http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=aaplw&p=i35w+collapse Tiny cracks slowly developed in the steel until one day……..THUD!
How can you detect who is at high Hip Fracture Risk? A very low DXA T-score, especially in the spine, is a good indication. But DXA often fails if the spine is already crumbling or has arthritis. A better indication is Vertebral Fracture Assessment (VFA). Looking at the spine from the side, Vertebral Compression Deformities can indicate crumbling spongy bone in the spine before the spongy bone in the hip also crumbles.
Know where you stand. Get a Complete Bone Health Evaluation. Take Control of your future.
Jay Ginther, MD
Wrong Question! What you should be managing is Fracture Risk. If you only look at Bone Mineral Density (BMD), you miss the chance to decrease Fracture Risk in the overwhelming majority of people.
85% of the women who Fracture have a DXA score of “osteopenia” or even “normal”. Keeping their bone density at “only osteopenia” does them no favor. So how can you manage Fracture Risk?