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Osteoporosis & Metabolic Bone Health Program

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Features of Our Unique Program

The Utah Diabetes and Endocrinology Center at University of Utah Health has launched a bone health program that is unique to the region.

The Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Health program is designed to provide comprehensive, single-window access to high-quality patient care in northern Utah. We provide the following unique features and services:

  • Screening and diagnosis of osteoporosis and other metabolic bone disorders
  • Evaluation for secondary causes of pathological bone loss such as thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal disorders
  • Same day high-quality bone density scan (DXA) as available, performed by certified bone densitometrist
  • DXA reporting by certified clinical densitometrist
  • Fall risk assessment by certified geriatrician or physical therapist
  • Counseling on calcium and vitamin D intake by registered pharmacist
  • Weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercises by certified physical therapist
  • Medication therapy by certified endocrinologist
  • Biochemical markers of bone turnover to monitor treatment efficacy
  • Follow up of test results and management plan via telephone/secure email/letter

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What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means “porous bone”. It occurs when there is imbalance between new bone formation and old bone destruction. The bone loses its density and quality, which weakens it, making it prone to fracture.

What Are the Risk Factors or Causes?

This condition is most commonly seen in the following:

  • After menopause in women
  • In both men and women age above 70 years

Other Causes

A few other causes include these:

  • Overactive thyroid or parathyroid glands
  • Malabsorption disorders
  • Low testosterone in men
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Organ transplantation
  • Use of long-term steroids and others

Osteoporosis Symptoms & Treatment


Osteoporosis is a silent disease and usually does not cause symptoms. Backbone fractures are sometimes found incidentally by routine X-rays. It can cause fractures leading to symptoms.

  • Backbone fracture: Back pain, loss of height, and change of back curvature
  • Hip fracture: Hip or groin pain, inability to bear weight on affected leg

How Is it Diagnosed?

We use these methods to diagnose osteoporosis:

  • Bone density scan (DXA – Dual energy X-ray Absorptiometry)
  • Blood and urine tests to find out other causes
  • X-ray, to detect backbone fracture

Why Is it Important to Treat Osteoporosis?

Treating your osteoporsis will help you do the following:

  • Reduce fractures
  • Improve your posture
  • Heighten your self esteem
  • Enhance your quality of life

Treatment Options

Lifestyle Modification

All of the below play a beneficial role in improving bone health:

  • Calcium intake
  • Vitamin D intake
  • Exercise (weight bearing and muscle strengthening)
  • Fall prevention
  • Smoking cessation

Pharmacologic Therapy

The prescription drugs listed below improve bone health. They may be used one at a time after discussing with your physician benefits and risks and considering costs, logistics, and your preferences.

  • Bisphosphonates
    • By mouth: Alendronate (Fosamax), Risendronate (Actonel), Ibandronate (Boniva)
    • By vein: Zolendronic acid (Reclast)
  • Denosumab (Prolia)
  • Teriparatide (Forteo)
  • Estrogen
  • Raloxifene (Evista)

Patient Resources

Bone Density Scan

University of Utah Health offers bone density scans—also called DEXA scans—to measure how healthy your bones are.

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Osteoporosis Resources

If you've just been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you may be wondering what that means for your health. The good news is that it can be diagnosed and treated.

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