Osteoporosis occurs when bone density decreases and the human body stops producing bone. It can affect both women and men of all ages.
Read on for more information about the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention of osteoporosis.
Fast Facts on Osteoporosis
Here are some important facts about osteoporosis:
- Osteoporosis affects the strength and structure of bones and causes fractures mostly in the hip, spine or wrist.
- Exact symptoms of osteoporosis are not known, but weakened spine may lead to a stoop and eventually causes bone pain.
- Smoking and poor diet may increase your risk for the condition. Also, post-menopausal women have an increased risk for the condition.
- The condition is diagnosed using a special X-ray based scan, known as DEXA.
- Treatment includes medications to strengthen weak bones and prevent bone loss, dietary adjustments, and weight-bearing exercises.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, meaning porous bones, causes bones to become thin and weak, leaving them vulnerable to fractures. For some patients, even coughing or bending over can cause fractures. Earlier treatment can help to strengthen weak bones and prevent bone loss.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
These factors can increase your risk for the condition:
- Poor nutrition
- Taking certain medications
- Overuse of alcohol
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Advancing age
- Early menopause
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis
A patient does not develop any symptoms during the initial stage. They may not know they have osteoporosis until experiencing a fracture resulting from a minor incident such as a cough or fall.
You may experience these symptoms after your bones become weak or brittle:
- Loss of height over time
- Back pain due to fracture or collapsed vertebra
- A stooped posture
- A bone that breaks more easily
Tests and Diagnosis of Osteoporosis
Your doctor will review your family history and risk factors. They may recommend a scan if they suspect you have osteoporosis. The scan uses a special type of X-ray known as DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) to measure the bone mineral density.
DEXA scan uses two types of devices, which include:
- A Peripheral Device – a mobile machine, used to test bones in the finger, wrist or heel.
- A Central Device – a hospital-based scan machine used to measure the bone mineral density of the spine and hip.
Treatment for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis treatment plans vary from person to person depending on the individual’s condition and risk factors. If your risk is not high, your treatment will just focus on modifying your risk factors for bone loss. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan based on your test results and condition.
The treatment will help to:
- Maximize the ability of a person to continue with their routine tasks
- Slow or prevent the development of osteoporosis
- Maintain healthy bone mass and bone mineral density
- Reduce pain
- Prevent fractures
Your doctor may recommend drug therapy, stem cell therapy or hormone therapy if the above treatment plans do not work.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
Here are some ways to prevent osteoporosis:
- You should consume a balanced and healthy diet that includes dairy products, leafy vegetables, soft-bone fish, fortified breakfast cereals and foods that are enriched with vitamin D and calcium.
- Do not smoke, as smoking reduces bone growth and decreases estrogen levels.
- Limit your alcohol intake to prevent bone loss and encourage healthy bones.
- Do weight-bearing exercise to promote healthy bones, flexibility, and balance.