Ask the Nurse

I was diagnosed with osteoporosis last month after many years of osteopenia. My spine T-score was -2.8. I am 68 years old, 5 foot 7, 130 pounds and in good health. I did take osteoporosis medication for about 5 years in 1993 when I went into early menopause at 43 years old. In 2016, my spinal T-score was -1.9 and in 2000 it was normal at -0.9. Isn’t this a fast decrease in the last 2 years especially since I exercise regularly?

It is not uncommon for women to lose bone rapidly once they enter menopause. Normally, in the first five years, the rate of decrease can be up to 3 percent per year and after the first 5 years of menopause, bone loss continues to decrease at a rate of about 1 percent. Over time, this can be significant. In fact, the lumbar spine is the first to be affected as it is an estrogen sensitive bone. Women who go into menopause early are at an increased risk of bone loss. With many of the osteoporosis medications, the effect tends to go away after use so while you were on something for your bones for a short period of time, you may have needed additional therapy.

    • Additionally, you may want to speak with your women's health physician about looking into secondary causes for osteoporosis.
    • Thyroid diseases, kidney stones and malabsorption disorders, among many others, are all risk factors for bone loss.
    • Blood and urine tests may be needed.
    • Diet and exercise are very important, but are necessary NOT sufficient for treatment of osteoporosis.
    • It is important to get at least 3-4 servings of calcium in your diet in addition to separate vitamin D3 supplementation.
    • Weight bearing exercising is important as well, including weight lifting, aqua therapy, and yoga.
    • Follow up on your bone status with serial bone density on the same machine.

    All My Best,
    Speaking of Women's Health Nurse

    February 6, 2019 at 11:49am