What Is Osteoporosis?
Your bones are your body’s support structure and frame. Bones are constantly remodeling themselves by absorbing old bone and replacing it with new bone. By your mid-30s, however, your body starts to lose more bone than it replaces. The result can be weaker bones. .. Read more
Picture two sticks one made of solid steel and the other made of paper and Styrofoam. Unsurprisingly, the second stick is much easier to break then the first. Although an imperfect analogy, this is akin to what occurs in osteoporosis. The composition of the bones changes such that they become progressively weaker and more brittle. When mild to moderate changes of this sort occur, doctors term that osteopenia. Once significant bone loss occurs, doctors call this condition osteoporosis.
While the progressive changes of osteoporosis do not cause painful symptoms, it increases your risk for breaking a bone. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), an estimated 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men older than age 50 will experience a broken bone because of osteoporosis. This includes wrist, hip, arm, and leg breaks. The most serious injury is a broken hip, which can severely affect a person’s movement, quality of life, and in certain elderly populations actually carries a high risk of death.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Doctors have not identified a specific osteoporosis cause. They have identified risk factors that increase osteoporosis risk. According to the AAOS, these include:
unhealthy lifestyle choices
taking certain medications
Who Is at Risk For Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis comes with a considerable number of risk factors. Some of them can be controlled while others cannot.
Risk factors you cannot control include:
having already experienced menopause
family history of osteoporosis
female gender, especially females of Caucasian or Asian origin
history of age-related height loss
history of broken bones
history of hormone-related medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease
history of osteopenia
low body mass
age older than 50
Risk factors that are within your control include:
excess alcohol consumption
excess amounts of caffeine, protein and sodium in your diet
lack of calcium and vitamin D in your daily diet
lack of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet
lack of regular physical activity
long-term use of certain medications, including anticonvulsants and glucocorticoids
Talk to your doctor about your individual concerns and unique risk factors for osteoporosis. They can help you identify any medications that could be switched, if possible. Don’t stop treatments or medications without your doctor’s advice.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Doctors call osteoporosis a “silent disease” because the condition often has no symptoms. The first sign a person has the condition is often a painful bone fracture.
Symptoms that could signal osteoporosis include progressive loss of height over time and a rounded upper back known as a dowager’s hump.
How Is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?
If you are at risk for osteoporosis or have experienced a bone fracture, a doctor may recommend a bone mineral density (BMD) test. A dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan is the most common BMD test. Similar to an X-ray, this painless test measures your bone density, especially at the hip and spine.
A DEXA scan can help determine how strong your bones are while letting your doctor monitor your bone density. This can confirm whether treatments are necessary and if so, whether or not they are working.
How Is Osteoporosis Treated?
Bone mass and skeletal structure generally cannot be replaced once it’s lost. Treatments for osteoporosis focus on retaining a person’s current bone mass level.
Several medical specialists may work together to treat the condition. These include an endocrinologist and an orthopedic specialist.
Treatments include the following.
The same healthy habits that prevent osteoporosis can also be beneficial in treating it. Eat a healthy diet high in vitamin D and calcium. Engage in regular weight-bearing exercises. These healthy steps can maintain bone. Always talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program to ensure you can safely exercise.Type your paragraph here.
A doctor may prescribe estrogen replacement therapy for women because a drop in estrogen production can lead to bone loss. This commonly occurs after menopause. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are another similar treatment.
Other medications that may prevent bone loss include calcitonin and bisphosphonates, such as alendronate. These medicines encourage bone maintenance.
The most common medications are: