Do You Have Osteoporosis?

Bone is living tissue that is continuously being broken down and replaced. Bone growth naturally slows down with age. But when the creation of new bone does not keep up with the loss of old bone, the bones become weak or porous. This condition is called osteoporosis. These fragile bones become painful and can be broken or fractured easily. Over 50 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, which increases the risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can also impact other bone issues, and people may need joint replacements. Luckily, there are some options available for safe osteoporosis surgery.

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Osteoporosis and joint health

Osteoporosis can silently creep up on unsuspecting patients, and many would not know until there is a joint issue. Joints are parts of the body where two or more bones meet to allow movement. Joint pain can be caused by osteoarthritis, which is the gradual wear and tear of cartilage and bone. These are different conditions with different symptoms and outcomes. And in some cases, a fall could cause a fracture, likely due to osteoporosis. Poor joint health or injury may require a total or full knee replacement. But is this even possible?

A weak foundation for your new joint?

With a joint replacement, an orthopedic surgeon removes part or all of damaged bone and cartilage. From there, the surgeon replaces the joint with prosthetic components. The goal is to relieve the pain and discomfort that comes with using the joints. Commonly, joint replacements happen in the knee, hip, spine, and shoulder. The new prosthetic must be anchored to the nearest bone. The genuine concern would be if these replacements can be anchored to porous bone. Would bone density affect the integrity of the joint?

Is joint surgery possible with osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a major problem for surgeons performing joint replacements. The surgeon will likely request a bone density test beforehand. If there are signs of osteoporosis, the surgeon will have to decide whether the surgery is feasible or not. Most surgeries with minor osteoporosis are possible. The surgeon may make some adjustments, such as using a longer implant. However, severe osteoporosis can be a concern. The bones may be unable to support the new joint. In this case, the patient needs to improve bone health first before a joint replacement.

Surgical options with osteoporosis

Doctors can help improve osteoporosis with lifestyle modifications and medication. However, if there is a fracture of some sort, surgery is needed. An orthopedic surgeon can use a combination of pins, screws, and rods to repair the bones. A follow-up cast or splint will help with the repair. With other joint issues, like spinal fractures, the patient can benefit from procedures like kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty.

Focus on bone health

Joint replacements can help with reducing joint pain and increasing mobility. However, if the patient has severe osteoporosis, the issue must be addressed first. The patient will need to focus on medications and lifestyle changes that can help the body naturally produce more bone. From there, the surgeon will then be able to perform a joint replacement. In some cases, osteoporosis surgery may be best. The doctor can advise the steps best to deal with both conditions.

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