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May 5, 2022

May Is National Osteoporosis Month

Facts about Osteoporosis:

  • In the United States, an estimated 10.2 million people have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and an estimated 43.4 million people have been diagnosed with low bone mass (What Is the Prevalence of Osteoporosis in the US?, 2021).
  • In the United States, osteoporosis accounts for about two million broken bones per year; however, almost 80 % of older adults diagnosed with bone breaks are not tested or treated for osteoporosis (Osteoporosis-Fast-Facts.pdf, n.d.).
  • It is projected that osteoporosis will account for three million fractures by the year 2025 at a subsequent cost of $25.3 billion (Osteoporosis-Fast-Facts.pdf, n.d.).
  • According to the CDC, about 20% of women 50 years of age and older and about 5% of men 50 years of age and older are affected by osteoporosis. (Does Osteoporosis Run in Your Family? | CDC, 2020).

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Osteoporosis is a preventable and treatable disease Oftentimes, people don’t know that they have it until a catastrophic event, such as a fall, causes a broken bone. National Osteoporosis Awareness Month is dedicated to educating the public on the importance of prevention, screening, and treatment of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis occurs when the body is not being able to form enough new bone to compensate for loss of old bone. The body either loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or does both. They, in turn, become porous and fragile and therefore weaken. Bone density and mass decrease.

Signs and Symptoms
Early bone loss is asymptomatic. Unfortunately, many people do not know that their bones are becoming osteoporotic until they break a bone. The signs and symptoms of osteoporosis appear once the bones have become porous and weakened.

The Medicare-covered preventive screening tests used for osteoporosis are bone mass measurements (bone [mineral] density studies)- the dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA/DXA) and the single energy x-ray absorptiometry (SEXA).

  • These tests can assist the health care provider in determining the strength of the bones, whether the patient has a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis, and whether the patient is more at risk for fractures because of the low bone density.
  • Results from the bone density test also guide the health care provider in making an appropriate treatment plan for the patient.

Osteoporosis may be preventable with early interventions, regular screening, and follow-up care. There are several interventions health care providers can take to promote bone health and assist their patients with prevention of osteoporosis.

  • Encourage your patients to schedule annual wellness visits and health screenings. Medicare covers Bone Mass Measurements (also known as Bone [Mineral] Density Studies) for those patients that qualify. Discuss this Medicare covered benefits with your patients and encourage them to enroll if applicable.
  • Talk to your patients about bone health including risk factors for osteoporosis.
  • Talk with your patients about the importance of staying active and regularly exercising.
    • Instruct your patients on the importance of performing both weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercises.
    • Inform your patients to avoid any activities that may put a strain on the spine, such as bending forward at the waist, performing sit-ups, performing toe touches, or swinging a baseball bat or golf club.
  • Educate your patients about eating a well-balanced diet. A healthy diet should:
    • Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
    • Include foods that are high in calcium and Vitamin D
    • Be low in salt, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and excess sugar
    • Contain foods high in fiber
  • Discuss with your patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and the relationship between weight and bone health.
  • Discuss the importance of reducing fall hazards in the home such as poor lighting, cluttered walkways, unsecured rugs on the floor, and steep steps.
    • Refer patients to ophthalmologist or optometrist if your patient has not had a recent vision checkup or is exhibiting signs of visual impairment.
    • If appropriate, request a consult from a social worker to perform a home assessment.
  • Encourage your patients to refrain from or to limit use of alcohol.
  • If your patients are smokers, encourage them to quit smoking. Educate your patients the link between smoking and risk for osteoporosis.
  • Review any medications your patient may be currently taking to ensure that they do not affect your patient’s bone health. Educate your patients on the importance of taking medications that can strengthen the bones (such as calcium and vitamin D supplements) and avoiding medications that may weaken their bones (such as steroids) if possible.
  • If your patients are currently on medications for osteoporosis, review the importance of regularly taking medications. Address any questions they may have regarding the medications prescribed.

For More Information
CMS Preventive Services GuidelinesExternal Website

Other Resources



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