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Men Should Get More Aggressive Screenings, Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Update Date: Nov 05, 2014 01:40 PM EST

Osteoporosis, which is a common joint condition, is often viewed as a post-menopausal woman's disease. In a new study, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) set out to examine whether or not older men are missing out on vital osteoporosis screenings and treatment. The team found that men could also benefit from getting more aggressive screenings and medication.

"Given that the prevalence of fragility fractures among men is expected to increase threefold by the year 2050, adequately evaluating and treating men for osteoporosis is of paramount importance," the lead author of the study, Tamara Rozental, MD, an investigator in BIDMC's Department of Orthopedic Surgery, said according to the press release.

For this study, Rozental and colleagues analyzed data on patients who suffered from a distal radial fracture between 2007 and 2012. This type of fracture occurs near the wrist end of the radius, which is the larger bone located in the forearm.

"We know that a distal radial fracture can often be an early indication of bone loss. We typically see this type of fracture 10 to 15 years before we might see a hip fracture," said Rozental. "When we treat fractures of the wrist, it gives us the opportunity to do a bone mass density (BMD) evaluation and, if necessary, get patients into treatment with the goal of preventing more serious injury, like a hip fracture down the line."

The team discovered that 53 percent of female patients had Dual X-ray Absorptiometry, which is the preferred technique to use in measuring bone mineral density. In male patients, only 18 percent of them received the same screening test. In terms of treatment, 55 percent of women were given calcium and vitamin D supplements during the first six months after the injury whereas only 21 percent of men received the same treatment plan. Furthermore, 22 percent of women were on bisphosphonates, which is a drug used to increase bone mass. Only three percent of men took this drug.

The team concluded that osteoporosis should not be viewed as a woman's disease. Due to this stigma, men's health could be severely jeopardized. Instead, doctors should also look for any possible underlying factors that could be responsible for bone fractures in men. Simply treating the fracture will not reduce future risk.

Rozental concluded, "The results of this study lead us to suggest that men over the age of 50 with fractures of the distal radius should undergo further clinical assessment and bone density testing to better identify those at high risk for future fracture as well as those who would benefit from further treatment."

The study was published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

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