Orthopedic Health for Women
The St. Joseph Women’s Medical Center enjoys a close partnership with the Orthopedics Department on campus. The risk of osteoporosis, bone density loss, and other bone health concerns increase with age for all women.
As you age and go through menopause, our healthcare team is here to make sure that your bones are taken care of. We perform blood work, x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and bone density tests, as well as help you make decisions about joint repair and replacement surgery when necessary.
Orthopedic treatment is comprehensive and offered entirely on-site, making the experience as convenient and comfortable as possible for you. We encourage you to explore the resources, below, to learn more about osteoporosis and bone density screening at St. Joseph Medical Center.
What is Osteoporosis?
Simply put, osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones, increasing the likelihood that bones fracture or break. While the disease affects both men and women, postmenopausal women are at the highest risk for osteoporosis. In fact, 10% of all women over the age of 50 are afflicted with osteoporosis of the hip.
Exercise and strong calcium intake are the best ways to prevent osteoporosis. See the graph notes on age categories below to better understand how this disease develops.
The most significant bone growth occurs during childhood, which is why eating calcium-rich foods is so important during this phase. Exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, keeps bones growing strong.
Young Adulthood to Age 30
During the young adult phase of life, bone growth is complete, but bone strengthening is still continuing. During your 20s, your peak bone mass is attained. The same childhood habits that kept bones strong and healthy still apply during these years.
Age 30 to Menopause
Bone mass decreases slightly during these years. The body makes only just enough new bone to maintain peak bone mass. Proper exercise and calcium intake continues to be essential during this phase.
After menopause, your body produces less estrogen. Estrogen helps prevent calcium loss. As your body adjusts to lower estrogen levels, your risk for bone loss increases. Depending on your pre-menopausal peak bone mass, treatment may be necessary to reduce the risk of fracture.
Later in Life
As you enter your golden years, your body loses more bone mass than it produces, which greatly increases the risk of fracture. Staying active and increasing calcium intake are two of the best things you can do for yourself during this phase of life.
Note on Hormone Therapy
After a hysterectomy, many women undergo hormone therapy to replace lost hormones. Hormone therapy may help reduce bone loss and lessen your risk of developing osteoporosis, but could increase the risk of other health problems. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of hormone therapy with your physician.
How Does Bone Loss Occur?
The body has a natural system for maintaining bone. When you are intentional about exercise and eating a healthy diet, you allow your body to do what it does best. Take a quick look at the balanced and unbalanced bone-making systems below to see the radical difference.
Balanced System Supporting the Body
The body is constantly producing and losing (resorbing) bone, a process known as remodeling. Bone-making cells use the calcium and minerals from your food to produce new bone mass, while bone-resorbing cells disassemble bone, which allows those minerals to repair an injury or create new bone. When in balance, this system allows for the same amount of bone to be built and resorbed.