Article by Dr. Misako McLeod, DPM
Osteoporosis is common issue that affects both woman and men. Osteoporosis is the thinning of bones which makes one susceptible to fractures, delayed bone healing, and can often cause serious healing issues with bone procedures during foot and ankle surgery.
The main risk factors for osteoporosis area:
Next, Vitamin D is essential for bone healing and low levels may contribute to slow healing or no healing at all (non-union.) If the patient is low in Vitamin D, the patient will be placed on Calcium supplements with Vitamin D, usually 1,200 mg with 1,000 units of Vitamin D. Sometimes patient may require additional supplementation through their primary care physician. These type of supplements are usually in pill form and can be taken once a week for certain patients.
Increasing one’s daily sunlight exposure will increase the body’s natural ability to increase Vitamin D levels. Of course, one needs to be cautious if one has a history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
Osteoporosis and Bone Surgery
Osteoporosis makes bone surgery very challenging. Imagine being a carpenter and trying to place a screw across a piece of honey comb. There’s no “take” of the screw, it won’t compress, and the fixation is extremely difficult. Well…that’s exactly what happens with osteoporotic bone and surgery – the fracture fragments or osteotomy (bone cuts) are very difficult to fix. However, nowadays, we are lucky enough to have special instrumentation and orthopedic equipment such as locking plates which are designed for osteoporotic bone and other orthopedic situations. These specially designed orthopedic plates help the surgeon in fixing osteoporotic fractures as well as other forms of surgery.
Ultrasonic Bone stimulation
If one has undergone bone surgery, and there is a risk of delayed healing, Dr. McLeod may prescribe an Exogen bone stimulator to assist with healing post-operatively. The bone stimulator is used 20 minutes per day and speeds up bone metabolism and healing. It’s placed on the skin through a small cut-out in the cast. It’s non-invasive, non-painful and easy to use.
Bone stimulators may be covered by your insurance and payment will authorized with your insurance in advance. Dr. McLeod will fit, dispense, and instruct you in the proper usage of the device.
Another option for those with osteoporosis who must undergo surgery, is the use of stem cells placement during surgery. These stem cells encourage the baby cells to differentiate into mature bone cells and facilitate bone healing.
Regardless of the technique that Dr. McLeod determines is best for you, it’s important to understand that osteoporosis require further life long management including calcium rich diet, adequate vitamin D supplementation, weight bearing exercises, fall risk prevention, and monitoring.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!