Why You Should Be Concerned About Your Osteoporosis Risk If You Have Crohn’s
If you have Crohn’s, here’s why you also need to be mindful of your risk of osteoporosis. Understand how the two are linked.
By Bret Lashner, MD
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If you have Crohn’s disease, you are more at risk for low bone mineral density, or osteoporosis. This means your chance of breaking your bones is much greater. The good news is there are ways to prevent this, including simple vitamin and mineral supplements. But first, your doctor needs to determine if these are right for you.
Osteoporosis is a common problem in the United States and usually is associated with older age. People with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by ulcers in the large and small bowel, are particularly susceptible to developing osteoporosis. The chances are as high as 77%.
One of the dreaded consequences of osteoporosis is bone fracture, even with minor trauma. The bone fracture risk in Crohn’s disease patients is at least 40% higher than in other, unaffected people of the same age and sex.
This is why it is important to find ways for Crohn’s disease patients to address their risk of developing osteoporosis.
If you have Crohn’s, it may be important to test your bone mineral density.
The American College of Gastroenterology and the American Gastroenterological Association guidelines recommend testing in Crohn’s disease patients with at least one of these risk factors:
Bone mineral density can be easily measured with an accurate, painless test called a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) test.
There are other risk factors for osteoporosis important to Crohn’s disease patients that aren’t mentioned in the guidelines, including:
I recommend calcium (1 to 1.5 grams daily) and vitamin D (800 units daily) to my Crohn’s disease patients with one or more of the risk factors I mention above.
You can get these calcium/vitamin D supplements over the counter. Talk to your doctor about taking them along with a multivitamin pill daily. (Those with abnormal DEXA scans will need additional therapies.)
So, sticks and stones will not break your bones, if you work with your doctor to prevent the low bone mineral density often seen in Crohn’s disease patients.