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Osteoporosis & Shoulder Conditions

Shoulder Surgeons Treating Osteoporosis in Orange County

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by a loss of bone mass and decreased bone tissue that can lead to weak and fragile bones. In addition to causing back pain, limited movement, and other problems, osteoporosis also increases risks of bone fractures.

Unlike osteoarthritis – a degenerative joint disease caused by a decrease in cartilage that commonly develops as a result of overuse – osteoporosis is a distinct medical condition involving the bones themselves. Patients with osteoporosis do not typically experience symptoms in the early stages of bone loss, but can experience signs and symptoms when the condition has weakened bones, including bones which comprise the shoulder:

  • Shoulder blade (scapula) fracture
  • Collarbone (clavicle) fracture
  • Arm bone (humerus) fracture
  • Rotator cuff tear

There are a number of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, including age, sex (women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men), race, lifestyle choices (including diet and activity level), long-term use of steroids and certain medications, and medical conditions such as cancer, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.

Diagnosing Osteoporosis

Accurately diagnosing osteoporosis is critical to helping patients manage the disease, reduce risks of shoulder fractures and other conditions, and effectively treat complications. As such, physicians will review a number of factors, including:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examinations
  • Bone densitometry scans, or dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), to measure bone density
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays


Treating complications of osteoporosis involving the shoulder will depend on the condition and injury involved. For fractures, doctors may take different approaches depending on which bone has been broken:

  • Shoulder blade (scapula)Fracture – Conservative care, including ice, rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication often prove effective in treating shoulder blade fractures and managing shoulder pain. Slings to keep the arm in place while the bone heals may also be used.
  • Collarbone (clavicle)Fracture – Conservative care and the use of a sling to hold the arm in place during recovery are also effective for treating collarbone fractures.
  • Arm bone(humerus) Fracture – Arm bone fractures can heal with conservative care and the use of a sling, but may require surgery or a total shoulder replacement if breaks are severe and bones have shifted.

In addition to treating shoulder fractures using non-surgical and surgical approaches, our doctors can also treat other complications associated with osteoporosis and decreased bone mineral density, including rotator cuff tears. Treatment for rotator cuff injuries typically begin with anti-inflammatory medications and other non-surgical treatments to manage pain. However, the size, shape, and location of the tear may require surgery, including a trimming or smoothing procedure called debridement, suturing of tendons, or repairing of a tendon torn away from the bone.

Find a Shoulder Surgeon Today

Diagnosing, treating, and assessing complications associated with osteoporosis of the shoulder is critical to increasing one’s quality of life. At Hoag Orthopedic Institute, our specialists and leading shoulder surgeons are committed to helping patients restore, improve, and enhance their health and mobility – and to the use of leading edge tools and techniques. If you would like to meet with a doctor to discuss your condition and treatment options, visit our online physician directory to find a shoulder surgeon.

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