Bone density loss is commonly associated with osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle. It can lead to a number of issues, the most obvious being bone fractures. People dealing with this issue are more susceptible to fractured hip and spine bones — what might seem like an unremarkable fall or injury for someone with healthy bones becomes a major issue for a patient with bone density loss. Weakened hip bones from density loss means a fall can lead to injury, disability, or death. Bones in the spine can become brittle and crumple over time, leading to back pain, forward-hunched posture, and lost height.
A loss in bone density has ramifications for health and quality of life in those suffering from it. This article will discuss the issues that a loss of bone density can cause, different treatments, and how hyperparathyroidism (HPT) may contribute to bone density loss.
Is Bone Density Loss Preventable?
Osteoporosis and bone density loss impact most people over time, as they get older and their production of new bone mass slows down. However, other factors can also play a part in loss of bone density such as diet, hormone levels, thyroid problems, and HPT. There are a few steps that anyone can take to help prevent bone density loss.
Diet and exercise are two key variables that can be controlled to help prevent bone density loss.
Regular exercise can play an important role. Strength training and weight-bearing exercises as well as balance exercises can help strengthen the muscles in the arms, spine, legs, and hips. They can also help reduce the risk of falls that lead to bone fractures.
Consuming a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may help keep the bones healthy as well. The bones store calcium, which supports bone strength and hardness. Also, the body uses calcium to stimulate muscle movement and send and deliver messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends adults between the ages of 19 and 70 consume 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Calcium is found in milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, grains, and other foods. Furthermore, calcium supplements are available for those who are dealing with hypocalcemia, a medical condition that causes calcium in the blood to fall below an average level.
Like calcium, vitamin D is found in a wide range of foods, including milk, tuna fish, yogurt, margarine, and beef. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut, as well as supports bone growth and remodeling. As such, vitamin D may help lower the risk of osteoporosis and bone density loss.
How Is Bone Density Loss Treated?
Various treatments are available to help address bone density loss. A number of prescription medications and treatments can help, as well as hormone-related therapies. For cases related to HPT, surgery can help correct the issue.
For men and women who experience bone density loss, there are two common prescription treatment options.
- Bisphosphonates are prescription medications that can help treat bone density loss. They’re available as a quarterly or yearly injection, or as a weekly or monthly pill. However, they have also been linked to side effects like nausea, fever, and muscle aches.
- Denosumab is another medication that may help reduce bone density loss. It is generally delivered as an injection approximately every six months, and patients may need to take the drug indefinitely. The medication has been shown to help lower the risk of bone fractures, yet potential complications of denosumab include delayed healing of the jawbone and breaks or cracks of the thighbone.
Hormone-related therapy may also be used to help manage bone density loss. Women may be treated with estrogen or Evista (which mimics estrogen) in women, and testosterone therapy is available to treat men in combination with other bone density loss treatments.
If bone density loss is related to parathyroid gland abnormalities that lead to a calcium or vitamin D deficiency, surgery may be required to correct these issues. In this scenario, the presence of one or more abnormal parathyroid glands must first be confirmed. Then, a patient may be diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism (HPT), which may be treated with removal of any abnormal parathyroid glands.
How Is Surgery Used to Treat HPT?
HPT is a medical condition that causes overproduction of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates calcium in the blood. If a tumor forms on a parathyroid gland, the function of the gland is affected, and an imbalance of calcium in the blood can occur and impact cell function. In this instance, bone density loss can then occur. Other physical symptoms may also be present, such as fatigue, acid reflux, and constipation. If these symptoms go undiagnosed and untreated, they can reduce life expectancy.
Research shows that 100% of patients who have bone loss and HPT experience improvement in bone density after treatment. In one study, researchers found that bone mineral density increased by 1-8% in patients coping with primary symptomatic HPT and HPT related to a renal transplant. The study also revealed that the largest increase in bone mass occurred in patients with HPT associated with hemodialysis, a treatment used to filter waste and water from the blood; in these patients, their bone mass increased by 7-23%.
A minimally invasive parathyroidectomy (MIP) procedure is available to address HPT symptoms. The procedure is designed to cure HPT with minimal disruption of tissue under the skin and organs and structures near the parathyroid glands. When performed by Dr. Babak Larian of the CENTER for Advanced Parathyroid Surgery, a patient can limit the risk of surgical complications.
Schedule a Treatment Consultation Today
Dr. Larian is a parathyroid surgery expert, and he devotes significant time and resources to analyze a patient’s HPT symptoms. If a patient experiences bone density loss and other physical symptoms of HPT, Dr. Larian performs tests to verify the presence of one or more abnormal parathyroid glands. Finally, if Dr. Larian believes an MIP is a safe, effective option to treat a patient’s symptoms, he provides a personalized surgery plan.
With support from Dr. Larian, a patient can undergo an MIP to alleviate bone density loss and other HPT symptoms. To learn more about minimally invasive parathyroid surgery or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Larian, please contact us online or call us today at 310.461.0300.