Whether you are concerned generally about the health of your bones or you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, Dr. McCormick will sit down with you and address your questions. He is a member of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the International Society of Clinical Densitometry, and the Institute for Functional Medicine, and his goal is to help his patients understand their risks for osteoporosis and to offer them an alternative to its prevention and treatment more natural and effective than pharmaceuticals. Dr. McCormick uses a Functional Medicine approach when treating patients with bone loss. He assesses each one as an individual with a unique biochemistry that requires a specific therapeutic strategy. Using this personalized method, he helps patients find their own individual path to the nutritional management of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a chronic disease characterized by low bone mass and a failure in structural integrity. With this loss of structural strength comes the increased likelihood of fracture, especially of the hips, spine, ribs, and wrists, though the entire skeleton is actually at risk. Osteoporosis is often said to be a disease of the young that is manifested in the old. It takes time for bone density to be lost, years usually, and if optimal bone density isn’t acquired at an early age, then the chance of developing bone fragility in your later years is high. Our bones must reach their maximum density by age 35 because after that it tends to diminish.
Osteoporosis is a growing public epidemic.
It causes approximately 1.5 million fractures each year in the United States alone. Over 10 million Americans are currently diagnosed with it, and over 50 percent of women and 13 percent of men age 50 and above will sustain an osteoporotic-related fracture in their lifetime. Another sobering statistic is that 20 percent of the elderly who sustain a hip fracture will die from complications within a year. To reduce these statistics, we must all begin to address our bone health at an earlier age.
It’s a good idea to consult with Dr. McCormick even when you are young about risk factors that can predispose you to bone loss so that you may take appropriate steps to improve your bone density before it declines. Do you remember the axiom about what an ounce of prevention is worth?
You would benefit from visiting Dr. McCormick’s blog at: www.osteonaturals.com.
Another good idea is to read Dr. McCormick’s book The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis, recently released by New Harbinger Publications.
Your skeleton provides your body with a most necessary structural foundation while it serves simultaneously as a repository of the important minerals necessary for life. This conflict in job description unfortunately often leads to bone loss.
Our bones are made up of a hard outer cortex and an inner, much more fragile, spongy trabecular bone. The trabeculae are a lattice of three-dimensional structural beams that give bone its ability to be light yet strong. In healthy bone, the cortex has good thickness and the trabeculae are plentiful, robust, and intact. Osteoporotic bone is weak because the cortex is thin and the trabeculae are few in number, thin, and often disconnected.
We have three types of hard-working bone cells. Osteoclasts break down old, worn, and weakened bone by secreting acidic chemicals and then ingesting the debris. Osteoblasts are the builders that form strong new bone, and osteocytes are the foremen that manage the whole bone-remodeling process. If osteoclasts become too aggressive or numerous, they devour excessive amounts of bone; this bingeing leaves deep gouges that the osteoblasts are unable to completely fill with new bone. As a result, the cortex becomes pitted and the trabeculae get thinner and thinner until they separate from adjacent bone.
When we look through a microscope at severely osteoporotic bone, we see trabeculae just hanging there, not connected to anything, and therefore offering no strength to the bone. This disconnectivity of trabeculae is what keeps fracture risk high even when a person’s bone density is improved through pharmaceutical treatment. At this point, the quality of the bone has deteriorated beyond what nutritional support can effectively improve. Ideally, if a person undergoing rapid bone loss can be diagnosed before substantial disconnectivity has taken place, effective nutritional support for bone health can be highly beneficial.