Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who Treats Osteoporosis?

Who do you see if you have a heart attack? A cardiologist. What if you have a brain tumor? A neurosurgeon. If you have osteoporosis? There is really no one right answer.

Osteoporosis is an unusual disease, in that no single medical specialist is considered the "go to" physician for treatment. If you find an osteoporosis specialist in your area, their medical specialty may vary: family practice, rheumatologists, endocrinologists, internists, nephrologists, orthopedic surgeons and radiologists. The reason for this is that osteoporosis is a complex chronic disease it has many underlying causes factors and manifestations.

Someone with uncomplicated located osteoporosis--that is, no fragility fractures--is often managed medically. Most commonly this is done by the patient's primary care physician such as a family physician, internists her OB/GYN.

If they have a hip fracture, then they will likely see an orthopedic surgeon. Or, they may see an interventional radiologist for a vertebral compression fracture. But often these physicians may not treat the underlying medical cause.

Other times, the patient have osteoporosis secondary to medications they are on or medical conditions they suffer from. For example,rheumatologists often see patients on chronic steroids for rheumatoid arthritis or other painful joint conditions. Likewise, nephrologists often see patients with chronic renal failure which is a cause of osteoporosis. In these situations, this particular physician see a large number patients with osteoporosis and therefore treat the disease.

There other physicians who take an interest in managing osteoporosis due to the large volume patients that they see with this condition. For example, in my community many OB/GYN and women's specialists as well as myself see patients with osteoporosis.

Radiologist don't commonly treated patients with osteoporosis. In my next post I will discuss why we began this treatment.

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