NEW TREATMENTS and preventives for osteoporosis are allowing women--and men--to avoid its worst consequences. Image: MELISSA SZALKOWSKI, GCa Photo Researchers, Inc. (left spine), CORBIS (right spine)
Late last year a new patient, 72-year-old Maxine LaLiberte, limped into my office. She said she had always been very active. She baby-sat frequently for her nine grandchildren and had been looking forward to a long-planned cross-country motor home trip with her husband. But now the excruciating pain between her shoulder blades was curtailing her movements and making her feel old.
I was all too familiar with those symptoms in people my patient's age. Even without examining her, I was reasonably sure that one or more of her vertebrae had fractured as a result of osteoporosis, a disorder characterized by bone loss so severe that fractures occur spontaneously or from even minor bumps.