Osteoporosis: steroid danger

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Ten million Americans have osteoporosis and 18 million more are at risk. The bone disease leads to an increase in fractures in the hip, spine and wrist accounting for 1.5 million painful fractures each year, and one woman's harrowing story of recovery is inspiring.

Playing on the floor with her dog Belle wasn't possible for Robin after she slipped, breaking her back last Christmas.

She told ABC30, "The pain was so bad you couldn't even cry."

The moments leading up to the fall began back in 2007 when Robin was treated for asthma with the steroid prednisone. It led to osteoporosis and a condition that causes her bones to crumble.

"Avascular necrosis is where the bone gets deprived of blood," she explained.

Her airway collapsed and, "My bones were so frail from when they put the tracheal stent in, I broke four ribs from coughing," Robin told ABC30.

Robin also broke her pelvis and had to replace both shoulders and hips. Sean Tutton, MD, an Interventional Radiologist at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, says while Robin is an extreme case, "Osteoporosis is the main cause of these fractures. You're walking, you're doing stairs, you're doing maybe light weights, and those are the things that help you to preserve your skeleton."

In Robin's case, Dr. Tutton devised a way to fix her pelvis with medical grade cement.

"We inject the cement to basically glue that back together again," Dr. Tutton explained.

When she broke her back, he used the cement and a new spine implant known as KIVA that works like an internal cast to heal her spine. Now Robin's back on her feet.

She told ABC30, 'Sometimes when you think there's no hope, there's hope."

Robin says she's thrilled with the results of her surgeries and is thankful to Dr. Tutton and his team. To prevent the disease he recommends supplementing with vitamin D, calcium and regular exercise. Dr. Tutton also says smoking and drinking alcohol can put you at risk for osteoporosis. He says since the disease often runs in families; consider having a bone density test done to measure your risk, if it runs in yours.

For more information, contact:

Nalissa Wienke
Media Relations Associate

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