Aches, pain and bone breaks are not just normal ‘signs of aging;’ you could have a common, yet treatable, disease
Posted: October 20, 2022 | Word Count: 734
Authored and Sponsored by Amgen
Susan Fuschino, an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania, experienced early menopause and, at 47 years old, was forced into early retirement after suffering from extreme back pain. She initially attributed the back pain to being on her feet every day while teaching, however, the pain was excruciating to the point that Fuschino couldn’t walk. She was ultimately diagnosed with compression fractures caused by osteoporosis and became dependent on her daughter to handle daily tasks.
“There are so many things I can’t do on my own anymore,” said Fuschino. “Emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, picking up items off the floor, really any activity that causes pain or puts me at risk of falling.”
Despite being a major public health problem for women worldwide,1 Fuschino had never heard of postmenopausal osteoporosis (PMO) before her injury. Many people mistakenly assume that osteoporosis (OP) symptoms, like low back pain and fractures, are typical signs of aging and first learn they have OP after breaking a bone.2,3 “You may not know that you even have osteoporosis until it's too late. Until you have a break or two," Fuschino explains. Many women are unaware that bone loss begins at menopause and you don’t have to be in your 70s or 80s to get osteoporosis.
An unmet need
OP is a common and serious disease and about half of women 50 years and older will sustain an osteoporotic fracture, according to the Mayo Clinic.4,5 The clinic also found that for U.S. women 55 years and older, the hospitalization burden of osteoporotic fractures is greater than that of many other serious diseases combined.5
Even after a bone break, many women are not appropriately diagnosed and about 80% of women are still not treated for OP, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.4 Unfortunately, many health care systems lack a systematic approach to identifying or treating patients for their OP-related issues.6
Don't wait to treat
Decreasing the risk of osteoporotic fractures is important.7 Some things women can do to beef up brittle bones include:
- Ensure calcium and vitamin D are incorporated into your daily diet to maintain bone mass7
- Participate in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises to strengthen bones7
- Talk with a doctor about getting a bone density test to learn about personal risk for OP and discuss if OP treatment might be right for you7
If you’ve already suffered an osteoporotic fracture, you may be five times more likely to fracture again within a year, according to a study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.8 Given this information, it’s clear that treatments for primary and subsequent fractures related to OP are needed.
Treatment options bring hope
OP is a serious condition, but there is hope with appropriate treatment, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.7 Now 51 years old, Fuschino, with the help of specialists, found treatment options that helped her improve bone density. She continues to share her story to raise awareness in hopes to help other women impacted by this disease.
If you or a loved one have osteoporosis and are at high risk of fracture or have already suffered an osteoporotic fracture, you should speak with your doctor about possible treatment plans. Visit UnderstandOP.com to learn about a treatment option, find resources, and learn how to start a conversation with your doctor.
- Sözen, T., Özisik, L., & Basaran, N. Ç. (2017)., 4(1), 46–56.
- Department of Health. The Facts About Osteoporosis. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2022, from https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2047/#:~:text=Is%20osteoporosis%20a%20normal%20part,is%20easily%20diagnosed%20and%20treated.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 20). Does osteoporosis run in your family? Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/disease/osteoporosis.htm#:~:text=It%20affects%20almost%2020%25%20(1,decrease%20the%20effects%20of%20osteoporosis.
- International Osteoporosis Foundation. Epidemiology Of Osteoporosis And Fragility Fractures [Fact Sheet].
- Singer A, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;91(1):53-62.
- 8 assessing the risk of bone disease and fracture - NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45525/.
- Bone Health and Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Fast Facts. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from http://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Osteoporosis-Fast-Facts.pdf.
- van Geel, T. A., et al. Annals of the rheumatic disease. 2009; 68(1): 99–102.