I had my first bone density test last year. The results were, I have osteoporosis. In my last entry, Bone Loss – Osteoporosis, we discussed tense and tight muscles that can cause inflammation in our tissue as well as an uneven pull on our bones.
My issue with bone density tests is, they only measure the lumbar spine or lower back…..they don’t measure the thoracic or upper back, which is more likely to suffer vertebral crush fractures (this causes the dowager’s hump as well as loss of height). Also, the test can be mistakenly overread when there is an increase of calcium deposits in an area that has been afflicted with arthritis. Another issue is if your body has been structured inside a tiny frame (which is my case).
By the time you reach the age of 35, your bones will have reached their ‘peak bone mass’. Yikes, that’s a pretty young age isn’t it? That means that osteoporosis isn’t something that comes about quickly, it happens over time. In fact, recent tests have been done on people in their 20’s and 30’s with indications that osteoporosis is already developing! But how do they determine what our ‘normal’ bone density should be? Obviously a large boned person and a small boned person are going to rate differently.
The World Health Organization and National Osteoporosis Foundation established criteria (T-scores) for making the diagnosis of osteoporosis, as well as determining levels which predict higher chances of fractures: The T score is reported on a bone density test and measured against the bone density of a normal 35 year old. Apparently…..
If your T-score is within one standard deviation of the average 35 year old, ie. between +1.0 and -1.0, you have normal bone density.
If your T-score is -1.0 to -2.5 standard deviations below the average, you have low bone density, a condition known as osteopenia.
If your T-score is at least -2.5 or lower than the average, you have osteoporosis.
If your T-score is at least -2.5 or lower than the average and you have broken one or more bones, you have severe osteoporosis.
My T-score was -2.7, which my doctor decidedly deemed as osteoporosis. In the American Journal of Medicine Osteoporosis is “a disease characterized by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, which leads to increased bone fragility and a consequent increase in fracture risk.” Does this mean my bones are likely to fracture? I don’t think so, it just means the possibility is there but may never actually happen.
“Prevention of osteoporotic fractures requires accurate methods to detect the increase in bone fragility at an early disease stage as well as effective therapies to reduce the risk of bone fractures. Presently the prediction of the patient-specific bone fracture risk is primarily based on bone density, since this is the only parameter which can routinely be measured in vivo. However, these predictions might not always be precise because the fracture risk is also determined by the bone microarchitecture and the bones loading conditions.
Technology is always advancing. If you do check out this website, it talks of a new approach to analysing bone density as well as microarchitecture with 3D high resolution imaging. Most hospitals haven’t the funds for this new scanner, at least my hospital does not. So this new testing is still very futuristic. Now, if microarchitecture is not included in the bone density test, which is a major component to Osteoporosis, how can they determine who has or who hasn’t this disease? Just because my bone density is below the ‘norm’ doesn’t mean my bones will fracture. In fact, maybe they never will!
All this test does, is cause you and me needless fear. Before the test you were feeling fine, with no problems or discomfort and in fact, you may never have any.
“To me a “disease” is a clear-cut decision that lessens comfort or well being. Maybe there’s some use in broadening the definition, but if we do that, we should at least be clear about exactly what we’re saying.
Once you’ve been told you have a disease, you’re going to start looking for a treatment. The drug companies and the doctors know this, and I think it is part of the driving force behind some new “diseases”. For example women who learn from a test they have low bone density are more likely to be on hormone replacement therapy then those who haven’t; they think that without the hormones they’re bound to end up with a broken hip or a rounded back. They’re rarely given adequate information about what bone density reall means.” Dr. Susan Love’s Hormone Book.
I truly believe what Dr. Love says here is true. This is exactly what my doctor proceeded to do. He prescribed a once-a-month drug that supposedly would strengthen my bones. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. I opted not to take it.
An article written by Dr. Zoltan P. Rona in a Toronto magazine called Vitality stated that one possible osteoporosis drug Fosamax is possibly linked to the development of esophageal cancer!
The article is here… http://www.vitalitymagazine.com/may09_pg32feat
Here’s a sample….
“The FDA received 23 reports of esophageal cancer possibly linked to the drug between 1995 and 2008. Since doctors notoriously under-report drug side effects, the real figures may actually be much higher.
Merck, the manufacturer of Fosamax, claims that their research does not indicate any association between the drug and esophageal cancer. Endocrinologists, internists and your friendly neighborhood GP agree, and so continue to prescribe this drug and other bisphosphonates. Can 50,000 Canadian doctors be wrong?
It is estimated that about 30 million people in North America take one of the class of drugs known as bisphosphonates. These include Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Didronel, Didrocal, Zometa, Aredia and several others.
One undisputed fact is that Fosamax can cause esophagitis and gastrointestinal bleeding. Conceivably, for a patient with severe esophagitis (such as the condition Barrett’s esophagus), the use of Fosamax can make the problem worse. Gastrointestinal bleeding and anemia due to mucosal lining erosions caused by Fosamax are definitely a possibility.
Bisphosphonates have been linked to severe and incapacitating bone, joint and muscle pain. In 2008, the FDA warned doctors this is a possible source of intractable pain for many people using the drugs, and may necessitate use of dangerous analgesics. When people who suffer from this side effect stop using the bisphosphonates, the pain usually subsides. Therefore, these are drugs that should never be given to people suffering from any form of arthritis or fibromyalgia.”
Oh my gosh! I suffer from fibromyalgia! My doctor knows this and prescribed this anyways?? And what of the millions who suffer from this illness too, as well as arthritis. What risks are they taking with these bisphosphonates? Do they know?
My years of learning about alternative therapies has taught me our bodies are intelligent and smart; the body’s main goal is to live and survive at all costs.
A disease doesn’t simply materialize out of thin air….it takes years to develop. Even if we were to find some magical drug to end Osteoporosis it still wouldn’t eliminate the source of the problem. Something has been steadily draining the body’s energy reserves and wreaking havoc on the bones, but what? The next segment(s) of this blog are going to explore these sources as well as Genetics, Family History and Lifestyle. It’s about how each of us can take responsibility for our own recovery.
“You are the one to decide how you are going to live, what you are going to eat, and what are you are going to think about. You have the choice of whether or not you are going to abuse your body. Only you can make your lifestyle decisions….
Anyone who is committed to taking responsibility for his/her own health can reach any level of wellness he/she wants.” Dr. M. Ted Morter, Jr.