Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and fragile bones. This condition often develops over a long period. It is found at a stage when the bones become so brittle and weak that mild pressure or stress would cause intense and severe fractures. These fractures occur primarily in the spine, wrist, or hip, although breaks can also be seen in other bones of the body.
How does one develop osteoporosis?
Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and gets replaced. Osteoporosis happens when the creation of new bone does not keep up with the loss of old bone.
Men and women of all races are affected by osteoporosis, although white and Asian women are at a greater risk of acquiring this condition than most. A healthy diet, exercise, and medication can help reduce the weakening of the bones.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is often asymptomatic and sometimes becomes evident only when the fractures happen . Nevertheless, there are certain signs that you can look out for to treat it early on. These are:
- Stooped posture
- Loss of height
- Back pain due to the fractured vertebra
- Easily breaking bones
When to see a doctor?
What are the causes of osteoporosis?
The human body is in a constant state of repair. When younger, the repairs and renewals are faster than the wear and tear, while at an advanced age, it’s vice versa. A healthy average human develops the highest bone mass by the age of thirty, and it is a gradual decline from this point of time , that leads to weakened bones.
Apart from this, various other factors decide how likely you are to develop osteoporosis. Race, early menopause, diet, exercise, medications, and even your current bone mass would determine if you are likely to develop osteoporosis.
What are the risk factors of osteoporosis?
Many variables decide the increase in the risk of the onset of osteoporosis. These can be categorized as follows:
- Predetermined risks
- Family history
- Body frame size
- Dietary risks
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal surgery
- Low calcium intake
- Hormonal risks
- Lowered sex hormones
- Thyroid problems
- Overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands
- Medication intake – Certain medications when taken for long owing to certain conditions such as seizures, cancer, transplants, and gastric reflux can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Medical conditions – Certain medical conditions such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, celiac disease, multiple myeloma, and rheumatoid arthritis markedly increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Lifestyle – Certain habits that shape your lifestyle can also increase the risk of osteoporosis. These are:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Tobacco consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
What are the complications developed due to osteoporosis?
The complications that arise from osteoporosis are particularly concentrated in the spine or hip of the skeleton. Fractures in these bones can also lead to disability and can even be fatal.Spinal fractures can also happen even without a fall and can lead to back pain , stooped posture and loss of height .
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Osteoporsis is diagnosed by measuring the bone density. This is performed by a machine that uses very low levels of X-Rays to determine the mineral proportion in your body. This is known as Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan.
The hip and the spine are generally assessed in this scan and the bone density is revealed. This scan helps your doctor confirm osteoporosis.
What is the treatment for osteoporosis?
Treatment for osteoporosis involves medications that help prevent the risk of bone breakage in the next ten years. These medications are prescribed based on your bone density. Some of these treatments are:
- Biphosphonates – The most commonly prescribed medication for osteoporosis to men and women with increased risk are biphosphonates. These also develop minor side effects such as a feeling of heartburn, nausea, and pain in the abdomen.
- Monoclonal Antibody – Denosumab is a monoclonal antibody that is administered as a shot underneath the skin every six months. This shot, when started, must be administered regularly. These also rarely can cause severe side effects such as the breakage of the thigh bone or osteonecrosis of the jaw bone.
- Hormone Therapy – Hormone therapy is generally prescribed for women soon after menopause. The women are administered estrogen that would help maintain the bone density. Men, too, undergo a decline in bone density owing to decreasing testosterone levels and therefore can be treated with testosterone.
- Bone building medication – Your doctor may prescribe the following drugs if most other options fail to work. These medications are:
How to live with osteoporosis?
The following suggestions may help reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis (breaking bones):
- Don’t smoke: Smoking raises the chance of fracture and the rates of bone loss.
- Avoid excessive alcohol: Having more than two alcoholic drinks in a day may decrease bone formation.
- Prevent falls. Always wear low-heeled shoes fitted with nonslip soles and check your home for area rugs, electrical cords and slippery surfaces that may cause you to fall. Keep all the rooms brightly lit, install grab bars inside as well as outside your shower door, and ensure that you can get into and out of the bed easily.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
A healthy lifestyle that includes an appropriate amount of exercise and a healthy and balanced diet can greatly decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis. The following must be added to your diet or routine to prevent the onset of severe osteoporosis.
- Protein-rich diet
- Maintaining optimal body weight
- Regular intake of calcium and Vitamin D
- Regular exercise including strength training
Osteoporosis is an age-related disorder that can be controlled with a balanced diet and a healthy non-sedentary lifestyle. Prevention of osteoporosis is possible by a high intake of calcium, proteins, and vitamin D. Finally, it is necessary to see the doctor at the onset of the symptoms to avoid further damage and disability.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How to detect osteoporosis early?Osteoporosis can be detected early by getting a bone density scan. This scan would display the density of the bones in your body. This would also help your doctor determine the health of your bones.A mild reduction in bone density is referred to as osteopenia. Osteopenia is the stage before osteoporosis, where the density of the bone is low but not low enough to be categorized as osteoporosis.
- Is there an alternative to estrogen administration?Raloxifene is also prescribed by some doctors to prevent many of the harmful side effects of estrogen administration. It mimics the function of estrogen on postmenopausal women. Raloxifene largely can reduce the risk of certain types of breast cancer as well.
- Is osteonecrosis a common side effect of monoclonal antibody therapy?No. Osteonecrosis, that is the delayed or slow healing of the jaw bone, is a rare complication that is particularly observed, in patients who would have undergone dental surgery. It is therefore essential to inform your history to the doctor before the intake of such medications.
- What is the ideal bone density?Your doctor may prescribe a bone density scan to determine the density of your bone. This would help him assess the cause of the pain and frequent fractures experienced by you.The density of the bone is calculated in the form of a score called the T-score. Therefore, a T-Score of
- =1, means that the bone density is normal
- Between -1 and -2.5, means that the bone density is low which also refers to the prelude of osteoporosis called osteopenia
- Below -2.5, means that the bone density is very low and confirms osteoporosis