When a person’s bones become so weak and brittle that a minor stress could cause a fracture, osteoporosis is likely the cause. This disease, a qualifying condition for New England Social Security disability benefits, affects many people.
This condition happens when your bones become less able to make new bone as quickly as the old bone breaks down. It is estimated that we reach our peak bone mass in our 20s. Osteoporosis can cause back pain, a “bent over” posture, a decrease in height, and an increased likelihood of bone fractures.
While anyone can get osteoporosis, the most likely are white and Asian women who have passed menopause. Risk factors include:
- Sex: More women than men get osteoporosis.
- Age: The risk of osteoporosis increases as you grow older.
- Genetics: Your risk is greater when members of your family have a history of broken bones.
- Hormone levels: Lower estrogen levels caused by menopause (and sometimes cancer treatments) and too much thyroid hormone can increase your chances.
- Diet: Not enough calcium, anorexia, and weight-loss surgery are also factors.
- Medications: Some medications prescribed for seizures, depression, and other disorders can increase risk. Steroids can also factor in.
- Lifestyle: If you sit around a lot, drink excessive amounts of alcohol or use tobacco, you are considered more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis becomes disabling when it becomes serious enough to cause bones to break easily. Spine and hip fractures are common and can also become a New England disability.
This potentially devastating condition is treated mainly with medication. Most commonly, bisphosphonates are prescribed. Well known osteoporosis prescriptions include Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, and Zometa. Unfortunately, there are side effects of all of these and sometimes the answer is quarterly or yearly injections.
Sometimes estrogen for women and testosterone for men are recommended to increase bone density. Other, less common medications are prescribed if you can’t tolerate the more usual ones. One, teriparatide (Forteo) is a hormone injected under the skin. However, long-term effects are not fully understood, so it is not recommended patients use this drug for more than two years.
To combat this condition, doctors also recommend an active lifestyle including weight-bearing exercise along with a balanced diet.
To find out about your osteoporosis and the Social Security disability system, call Keefe Disability Law toll free at 888-904-6847 for a free consultation. Rhode Island disability attorney John Keefe represents many New England residents with their applications and appeals. Let us help you too.