How should patients be educated about osteoporosis?

Updated: Jan 20, 2021
  • Author: Rachel Elizabeth Whitaker Elam, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Patient education is paramount in the treatment of osteoporosis. Many patients are unaware of the serious consequences of osteoporosis, including increased morbidity and mortality, and only become concerned when osteoporosis manifests in the form of fracture; accordingly, it is important to educate them regarding these consequences. Early prevention and treatment are essential in the appropriate management of osteoporosis.

The focus of patient education is on the prevention of osteoporosis. Prevention has 2 components, behavior modification, and pharmacologic interventions. Appropriate preventive measures may include adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, exercise, cessation of smoking, and moderation of alcohol consumption (see Treatment/Dietary Measures and Treatment/Prevention.)

Patients should be educated about the risk factors for osteoporosis, with a special emphasis on family history and the effects of menopause. Patients also need to be educated about the benefits of calcium and vitamin D supplements, as well as strategies to prevent falls in the elderly (see Primary Care–Relevant Interventions to Prevent Falling in Older Adults: A Systematic Evidence Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force [USPSTF]).

All postmenopausal women older than 65 years should be offered bone densitometry; densitometry should also be offered to younger women and men who are at elevated risk. These patients should understand the benefits of bone density monitoring. Society at large also should be educated about the benefits of exercise with regard to osteoporosis.

For patient education information, see OsteoporosisOsteoporosis and CalciumOsteoporosis FAQs, and Osteoporosis in Men.

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