Early Multiple Sclerosis Linked to Weak Bones

New research finds that multiple sclerosis patients develop osteoporosis and osteopenia earlier than previously known.

Researchers have long known that patients with advanced multiple sclerosis (MS) tend to have lower bone density and break more bones. Now, a new study published in the journal Neurology finds that low bone density is common for patients who are in the early stages of MS as well.

The study included 99 subjects who had recently been diagnosed with MS or clinically isolated syndrome, which means they had had an episode with MS-like symptoms but had not been diagnosed with the disease yet, and had at most minor physical disability from the disease. Participants were given bone density tests an average of 1.6 years after they first experienced symptoms of MS, and the test results were compared with bone density tests of 159 people with similar demographics who did not have any sign of MS.

The results: 51% of those with MS or clinically isolated syndrome had either osteoporosis or osteopenia (a less severe state of low bone density that can lead to osteoporosis), compared with 37% of those who had experienced no symptoms of MS.

“These results suggest that people in the early stages of MS and their doctors need to consider steps to prevent osteoporosis and maintain good bone health,” said study author Stine Marit Moen, MD, of Oslo University Hospital Ulleval in Norway. “This could include changing their diet to ensure adequate vitamin D and calcium levels, starting or increasing weight-bearing activities, and taking medications.”

Low vitamin D levels, which are associated with an increased risk of MS, can also lead to reduced calcium absorption and bone mineralization, which can weaken bones.

Around the Web:

Low bone mass in newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis and clinically isolated syndrome [Neurology]

Poor bone health may start early in people with multiple sclerosis [EurekAlerts]