Don't Wait for a Break to Get Screened for Osteoporosis

May 05, 2023
4 min read
Karissa Thal, MD


Karissa Thal, MD


Dr. Thal recently published an article in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine on the efficacy of medications for reducing fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

This National Osteoporosis Awareness Month, I want to bring awareness to the importance of screening, especially for women.

Osteoporosis is a disease that results in fragile bones which are at high-risk for breaking. Although not frequently discussed, this condition affects nearly 10 million Americans. Additionally, 44 million adults in this country are stricken with osteopenia, a milder condition characterized by weakening bones. Both conditions become more prevalent as we age.

Despite how common osteoporosis is, only 20% of adults have been screened for osteoporosis.

While osteoporosis impacts both genders, women, particularly those who have gone through menopause, have more risk than men. One in two women will break a bone from osteoporosis at some point in their lifetime, which is higher than a woman's risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, having a heart attack, or experiencing a stroke, combined.

Fractures can occur due to injuries like falls; however, they can also happen with mild trauma, such as bumping into a sofa or end table. In addition to causing discomfort, some fractures require surgical repair and subsequent rehabilitation.

Unfortunately, we cannot feel our bones becoming weaker. For this reason, it is common for patients to learn they have osteoporosis after they sustain their first fracture. We should not wait for a serious fracture to learn we have osteoporosis, especially when good screening tests are available.

Mount Nittany Health recommends that all women over age 65 receive a bone density screening test known as a DEXA scan to get ahead of osteoporosis. A DEXA scan is a series of x-rays that measures the density of bones at vulnerable sites in the body, including the hips and the spine. Older men and women who have sustained a fracture or have other risk factors for osteoporosis should get screened with DEXA scans.

Long-term, the best way to care for your bones is to have adequate calcium and vitamin D intake each day and engage in regular weight-bearing physical activity. Examples of weight-bearing activities include walking or jogging, dancing, or lifting weights.

For patients diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are many medication options for treatment. Mount Nittany Health works with each patient individually to find the best fit for them. Our goal with medications is to reduce the risk of sustaining fractures and give you resilience in later life.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Thal, call 814-355-7322 or log on to

About The Author

Karissa Thal, MD

Dr. Thal earned her Bachelor of Science from The Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University. She earned her M.D. at The Penn State College of Medicine and completed her residency at the Penn State Health Family and Community Medicine Residency at Mount Nittany Medical Center. During her residency, Dr. Thal served as Chief Resident and she also received a certificate of appreciation from the Penn State Navy and ROTC programs, recognizing her work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Working at Mount Nittany Health enables me to become my hometown’s family doctor,” said Dr. Thal. “I was born at Mount Nittany Medical Center and trained with the physician who delivered me.”

In addition to her family medicine duties, Dr. Thal is certified in advanced headache diagnosis and management from Thomas Jefferson University and works in the Mount Nittany Physician Group Neurology Clinic two days a week.

She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

“The philosophy of care that I live by is to listen carefully, think critically, and come up with a plan to meet each patient’s needs,” said Dr. Thal.

Dr. Thal resides in Bellefonte and when not seeing patients at Mount Nittany Health she volunteers at the Brookline Lab Retriever Rescue.

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