Bone Health Clinic keeps patients from falling through the cracks
Improving bone health is the first step to preventing fractures.
Early assessments and preventive care plans help thousands of people every year live longer, healthier lives by treating underlying conditions before they can become serious medical issues.
If you have—or are risk for—osteoporosis or other bone-related issues, the Bone Health Clinic offers personalized, coordinated care to assess your underlying bone health, help you recover from bone fracture surgery, and lower your risk for future bone injuries or fractures.
What is osteoporosis?
Every day, your body breaks down and reabsorbs old bone tissue and forms new bone cells to replace it. When bone tissue is reabsorbed faster than new tissue is made, you end up with low bone density, or osteoporosis. The loss of density makes your bones weak and more likely to fracture—especially bones in your hip, spine, wrist, and forearm.
Osteoporosis is often called a "silent" disease because bone loss often occurs without obvious symptoms. The first sign of osteoporosis is usually a fracture caused by a seemingly minor bump or fall.
That’s why it’s important to assess your bone health—so you can take steps to treat osteoporosis and prevent a fall or bone fracture.
The importance of improving bone health
National statistics show that as many as 54 million Americans have declining bone health that can lead to fractures.
Additionally, patients are 86% more likely to experience another fracture after their first one without proper treatment. The importance of avoiding additional fractures is emphasized by the fact that 20-25% of women and 30% of men will die within 12 months of sustaining a hip fracture.
“Patients are falling through the cracks,” says J. Lawrence Marsh, MD, professor and chair of the University of Iowa Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. “Patients can be referred to their primary care provider or endocrinologist for bone health assessment and treatment, but that often does not happen. The best time to start a treatment program is at the time of the original fracture.”
Filling the gap in preventative services
The Bone Health Clinic, headed by Lori Fitton, PhD, APRN-CNP, is designed to fill this need for coordinated diagnostic and preventive bone health services.
Clinic services include
- Inpatient consultation at the time of a first fracture with recommendations for optimal nutrition for fracture healing
- Follow-up consultation with coordination of DEXA scan and labs
- Calculation and explanation of FRAX score
- Personalized plan to mitigate risk for future fracture
- Nutrition, protein, and vitamin D supplement counseling
- Fall risk prevention recommendations
- Prescription medication for prevention or mitigation of future fracture risk
Bone Health Clinic care plans follow guidelines set up through the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) Own the Bone initiative. UI Health Care has been chosen as an Own the Bone Star Performer for its commitment to helping patients understand their risk for future fractures and how they can prevent them.
Making a difference in patients' health
Since the opening of the Bone Health Clinic in 2020, orthopedic surgeons at Iowa have found that patients, when offered these measures, are eager to learn how they can improve their bone health. With the care plans in place and the enthusiasm from patients, Fitton feels positive that they will see less falls in the future.
“By promoting and coordinating preventive services to patients with fragility issues, we expect to see a decrease in repeated falls and fractures in the years ahead,” Fitton says.