Own the Bone: Preventing and treating fall fractures

Published: Dec. 28, 2016 at 4:48 PM EST
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There are at least 10 million people in the U.S. with osteoporosis, and at least 50 million people with low bone mass.

That puts those people at risk for bone fractures, and that’s where Own the Bone comes in.

It’s a program all about helping people prevent fall injuries, and it’s something Dr. James Leipzig, the surgeon spearheading the program at LewisGale, brought to the area because of his own mom.

“She fell and broke her hip and had to have surgery, and it was a very big ordeal,” Dr. Leipzig said. “And even though I had seen hundreds and hundreds of people go through hip fractures, I never really understood the impact that it had on the person’s life and the family’s life.”

So he talked to his mother’s orthopedic surgeon about treating her underlying condition: osteoporosis. That’s when he discovered there was a huge treatment gap.

“It’s estimated that only about 20 percent of patients in the United States are actually treated for their underlying condition which is the osteoporosis following their first fracture,” he said.

Another really alarming statistic??

“Twenty percent or more of hip fracture patients die within a year, and up to 50 percent of hip fracture patients never live independently again.”

Own the Bone, set up nationally by the American Orthopedic Association, is helping health care providers by working to bring awareness, and educate people on fall risk and prevention.

“Because the bottom line is they have a disease called osteoporosis, the symptom is the fracture. What’s going on is that the symptom, the fracture is being treated, but the underlying disease is not being treated. So the Own the Bone program in simplest terms is designed to close that treatment gap,” he said.

Risk factors include genetic history, being female, being underweight, and history of smoking. But there are some simple tests and supplements everyone can take to keep bones healthy, whether you are 80 years old or 20.

Dr. Leipzip says everyone should take 2,000 IU of Vitamin-D every day. We should all be taking 1,200 MG of Calcium a day as well, but it’s better to have that come from dietary sources.

“What we can do is hopefully prevent future fractures and really impact a lot of people’s lives,” Dr. Leipzig said.

He says it’s not hard to screen for osteoporosis. If you’re older, make sure you ask for a bone density scan at your next physician’s visit in addition to getting Vitamin-D levels checked.

If you already have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you probably need medication.

And moving forward, the goal is to open an outpatient clinic, where patients can call and get screened in an effort to prevent that first fracture from ever happening.