Thursday, 27 November 2014

Gary's experience of osteopenia diagnosis!

I suppose when you think of Osteoporosis you think of old ladies with a hunched back. It is regarded as a condition that affects older people in our society, in addition there isn't much awareness of the condition.

Probably the first someone realises that they have this condition is when they find themselves in hospital with a broken hip; by which time the damage is done.  Remember that broken hip have a mortality rate of about one in three.

This was the  story for my mum, who found herself on the floor about eight years ago, unable to get up with her right leg twisted in such a way that her foot pointed out at 90° to the side.  This was followed by another broken hip (this time greater trochanter) five years later. In addition to using up a hospital bed for about a month in total; it's also robbed an otherwise alert OAP of much of her mobility & freedom.

Around 18 months ago, I attended a talk given by one of the National Osteoporosis Society's representatives at my local Arthritis Care monthly meetings. I was quite interested in what she had to say, and indeed it did spur me into action! I was aware that I had a number of the risk factors which leads to osteoporosis. These being taking Proton Pump Inhibitors (ulcer tablets in other words) and a family (genetic) predisposition to this condition. In addition, the National osteoporosis Society has a website, where you can access a page specifically devoted to risk factors, one of the risk factors named on this page is rheumatoid arthritis.

There are of course other factors that can cause osteoporosis, namely,  taking steroids, having an early menopause, thyroid conditions, lack of calcium and vitamin D in the diet, sedentary lifestyle, lifestyle choices (smoking and drinking),  low BMI/ eating disorders, in addition to having health conditions such as Coeliac & Crohn's diseases.

I approached my rheumatologist, and asked if I could have a DEXA scan of my bones, due to the two risk factors I mentioned earlier. A letter was sent off to the osteoporosis nurse and some three or four months later I was having the scan. A simple enough procedure, which took a matter of minutes to complete and the removal of my trousers. About a month later I went to visit my GP on another matter, and while this other matter was the main reason for my visit I did ask if I could have the results of this DEXA scan... It came back that I had osteopenia.

While I haven't been prescribed anything for this "new" condition, I decided to do something about it myself and purchase a large jar of calcium tablets.

While some people may find taking calcium tablets hard to swallow, there are some alternatives, namely increasing your calcium intake via your food. eg Milk (especially skimmed), yogurt, cheeses, almonds, sardines (I suspect it's the bones), dried figs and currants.


1 comment:

  1. Good post, Vicky. I have RA and osteopenia, too. (Osteopenia is the initial thinning of the bones that precedes osteoporosis.) Along with increasing your calcium intake, keep in mind that weight-bearing exercise is also good for rebuilding bone. Resistance bands, Nautilus machines, and hand-and-ankle weights while walking all work well for building bone. Exercise in general is great for RA (at least, as much as you can manage). It also helps strengthen and build the muscles that support your joints.

    Good for you for being proactive and taking extra calcium in the form of tablets. Vitamin D supplements are helpful as well, as it helps the bone absorb the calcium. Wishing your the best. :o)