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Making no bones about it

Larry Clanton of Denver knows something about osteoporosis.
The disease, characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue that increases risk of fractures, affects his mother.
“We put her in the hospital around Christmas because she had six vertebrae collapse,” he said. “Now, she’s in a nursing home for rehabilitation and is expected to be there for awhile.”
Clanton was among over a hundred people who came out to the January Wayne’s Feast that was held at Cap’n Petes restaurant in Denver.
Dr. Daniel Davis, an orthopedic surgeon from Lincolnton, was the keynote speaker.
“The three most common fractures caused by falls occur in the hip, wrist and shoulder,” he said.
The most common of the three fractures Davis talked about to the audience were hip fractures.
“If the fracture is right below the hip joint, the healing process can be interrupted because blood flow is compromised,” said Davis.
If the fracture, however, is located lower down the thigh, Davis added, then the fracture will heal better.
“We use what’s called a gamma nail to treat that fracture,” said Davis.
In that treatment, the nail goes through the thigh bone via a small incision. The fracture is secured through screws placed above the fracture area.
“The screw can collapse with the fracture if necessary,” said Davis.
Denver resident Andrew Johnson asked if inserting rods and pins causes a decrease in production of bone marrow.
“Adults don’t produce very much bone marrow,” said Davis. “We have to enlarge the space the rod is going to go into. Besides, we have plenty of sources to get marrow from.”
Newer rods surgeons like Davis are using today are made of titanium, while others are made of metal alloy.
“The common problem people get with hip fractures is arthritis of the hip,” Davis said. “When over-the-counter drugs quit working to treat the arthritis, then it may be time to replace the hip.”
During his presentation, Davis showed the crowd a full-size replica of an adult female’s hip.
Sherrills Ford resident Roesmary Gardner was surprised at the hip’s size.
“I didn’t realize a female’s hip was that small,” she said.
Even with the replacement, Davis cautioned that sometimes the ball where the hip replacement pivots always doesn’t stay in place.
“It’s not supposed to happen that way,” said Davis. “Sometimes, we can set the ball back into place. Other times, we have to make it stay in place, and that always doesn’t work well either.”
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), some 44 million Americans – or 55 percent – of people 55 and over suffer what the NOF calls a “major public health threat.”
Ten million Americans currently suffer from osteoporosis while 34 million more people suffer from low bone mass, which places them at an increased risk for osteoporosis.
The disease can strike at any age, even though the disease is characterized as an older-persons disease.
Those most affected by the disease are women, who make up 80 percent of all people affected, according to NOF.
The foundation estimates that 1.5 million fractures are caused by the disease. Over 300,000 of those fractures occur in the hip, while 700,000 fractures are vertebral. There are also 250,000 fractures reported in the wrist.
According to Davis, the disease is often called a “silent disease.”
“People may not know they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a fracture or a vertebrae to collapse.”

Larry Clanton of Denver plays the harmonica and sings at the beginning of the January Wayne’s Feast at Cap’n Petes restaurant in Denver. The monthly meeting is held on the second Friday of each month and involves fellowship, music and a meal. Jon Mayhew / LTN Photo
by Jon Mayhew

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