Osteoporosis occurs much earlier and is more severe in women with mobility limitations than in non-disabled women.
Preliminary studies clearly indicate that low bone mass---specifically osteopenia and osteoporosis---is common in women with disabilities by peripheral bone mineral density, or BMD, screening. Further, the findings indicate that women with disabilities do not receive recommendations for diagnostic testing of the spine and hip and, as a result, receive no therapy to prevent or treat osteoporosis. These findings suggest that health care providers, including primary care providers and specialists, are unaware of the prevalence of low bone mass and risk for osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in women with disabilities. Moreover, these findings suggest that the osteoporosis risk factors for women with disabilities are either unknown or ignored.
Risk factors associated with osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in these studies of women with disabilities have included low BMD, steroid use, and inadequate dietary intake of vitamin D, in addition to immobility, impaired balance and coordination, and lower extremity weakness. There is little information about the risk factors for osteoporosis in women across disabilities or clinical predictors that could be used to identify women with severe disabilities who would be candidates for osteoporosis treatment.