Building Better Bone Health


Stomach ache. Sore throat. Rash. These are clear indications that you may have the flu, strep throat or poison ivy. Unfortunately, some health conditions don’t have such clear symptoms. Osteoporosis is one of them.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone,” and it's the medical term for severely low bone mass. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. Additionally, 54 million Americans have low or thinning bone mass—called osteopenia—a precursor to osteoporosis.

Females have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis; however, it also affects men.
Along with gender, other risk factors include:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history
  • Low body weight
  • Smoking
  • Consuming 3 or more alcoholic beverages a day
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Since there are no clear indicators of thinning bone mass, osteoporosis oftentimes isn’t diagnosed until a person breaks a bone. Fortunately, Reedsburg Area Medical Center (RAMC) has several resources to help patients prevent the loss of bone mass, catch osteoporosis before a break and manage it once its been diagnosed.

Your first step

The first step to utilizing these resources is visiting with Liz Hank, Physician Assistant, Fracture Liaison Coordinator. In this role, Liz works with the RAMC Physicians Group providers to focus on each patient’s bone health. One way she does this is by educating patients on ways to maintain overall bone density, which helps prevent the development or worsening of osteopenia or osteoporosis.

  Liz Hank Shear W
  Elizabeth Hank, PA-C
Physician Assistant, Fracture Liason Coordinator

Dr. Mary Beth Shear
Family Practice, Certified Clinical Densitometrist

The two biggest prevention methods are:
  • Eating a bone-healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium-rich foods include low fat dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese or orange juice. Dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli and collard greens are excellent sources of vitamin D.
  • Strengthening bones through weight-bearing exercises like walking, running and dancing as well as muscle-strengthening exercises like weight lifting or resistance training.

Liz also works with the RAMC orthopedic physicians to assist patients who’ve experienced a break learn about management and treatment options like medication.

Bone Density Scanner

A second way RAMC helps patients keep up on their bone health is an on-site bone density scanner. This is the most accurate method for looking at bone density and diagnosing osteoporosis. It is a painless procedure that uses a low-dose x-ray to measure bone density at the low back, hip and occasionally the wrist.

Bone density screenings are recommended for:

  • Females 65 and older
  • Males 70 and older
  • Anyone over the age of 50 who’s experienced a fracture
  • Post menopausal women or males younger than 70 who have several risk factors

Working hand-in-hand with Liz is RAMC’s family practice physician Dr. Mary Beth Shear who is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist, highly skilled in the field of bone densitometry.

Strong Women

A third bone health resource at RAMC is Strong Woman, a 12-week exercise program that focuses on progressive weight training, flexibility and balance.


Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss your bone health.