Overview | Causes | Symptoms | Risks factors | Complications | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention |
What is Osteoporosis?
The word ‘Osteoporosis’ refers to spongy pores bones, which indicates that you have very little bone mass and bond strength. Osteoporosis is a disease or disorder of bones, which makes the bones weak and fragile from the inside. Although the bones get weaker as time passes, osteoporosis makes the bones so fragile that they can get a break or fracture even while bending, coughing, etc. Osteoporosis literally leads to abnormally porous bones that are compressible like a sponge.
Let me explain why and how osteoporosis makes the bones weak.
Our bones are made up of minerals, prominently calcium and its salts; which are bound together with the help of strong collagen fiber. The thick hard outer shell of our bones is called cortical or compact bone. Inside the compact layer of bones, there is a soft and spongy mesh of bones with a honeycomb-like structure, called trabecular bone. You may not know that bone can renew itself. Since bone is living and active tissue, the process of renewing is remaining in progress constantly, just like the renew cycle of blood cells. Cells of bones break the old bones tissues called osteoclasts and the old bones get replaced by the new bone materials produced by the cells, called osteoblasts. This process of break down and renewal of bones is always in progress.
When osteoporosis occurs, it makes the bone density low and bones weak from inside, which is why the bones become more likely to get fractured or break.
Osteoporosis does not have or show any experience. One gets to know about their osteoporosis only when they get a fracture or breakage of a bone. It is generally painless. Most of the fractures are of hips, wrist, spine, and vertebrae.
Who is more likely to get osteoporosis?
People with any age, gender and society can develop osteoporosis. But
- Women (females are four times for likely to suffer osteoporosis than men)
- About 200 million people are estimated to have osteoporosis throughout the world.
- After age 50, one in every two women and one in every four men
will have an osteoporosis related fracture.
Causes of osteoporosis:
When osteoporosis occurs, it makes the holes or spaces between the honeycomb (spongy trabecular bone) bigger and bigger. Due to this, the bones become weak and fragile.
As the age increases, especially after 35 years of age, the density of our bone begins to decrease. And if osteoporosis occurs after 35 years of age, it increases the rate of decrease of bone density.
In women, after menopause, the rate of decrease of bone density or rate of bone breakdown occurs even more quickly than ever.
Some of the other causes of osteoporosis are as follows —
- Lack of estrogen in the body
- Steroids consumption (especially if taken by mouth)
- Malabsorption (nutrients are not properly absorbed from the gastrointestinal system)
- Calcium deficiency
- Lack of vitamin D
- Previous fractures
- Lack of weight-bearing exercises
- Low body weight
- Poor diet
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Heavy smoking
- Family history
- Medical conditions, such as celiac diseases
- Caucasian or Asian face
- Thin and small body frame
- Poor nutrition and poor general health especially associated with chronic inflammation or bowel disease
- Low level of estrogen hormone in women
- Low level of testosterone hormone in men
- Chemotherapy (it has toxic effects on ovaries)
- Loss of menstrual periods
- Chronic inflammation
- Prolonged consumption of certain medications such as heparin (a blood thinner medicine) etc.
- Inherited disorders of connective tissue, etc.
Symptoms of osteoporosis:
Osteoporosis is such a kind of disease which do not have any kind of symptoms at all, no pain, nothing (At the initial stage). Several people of us are suffering from osteoporosis but they don’t even know this. People come to know about their osteoporosis only when they visit a doctor for the treatment of any other medical condition or gets a fracture.
In some rare cases, if any individual experience symptoms of osteoporosis (at the initial stage), then the symptoms would be —
- Receding gums
- Weak and brittle nails
- Weakened grip strength
If you don’t have any kind of symptoms but a history of osteoporosis, then consulting your doctor about it is very necessary.
Symptoms of severe osteoporosis —
- Fracture (due to a fall, a strong sneeze or cough, etc.)
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Loss of height (due to compression fracture)
- A stooped posture
- Stoop curvature of the spine
- Shortness of breath (smaller lungs capacity due to compressed disks)
- Pain in lower back etc.
- Low estrogen levels
- Low testosterone level
- Caucasian and Asian people
- Bone structure and body weight
- Blood diseases
- Celiac Disease
- An overactive thyroid, pyro thyroid, and adrenal gland
- Family History etc.
- Vertebral compression fractures
- Deformity of the spine
- Breathing problems
- Respiratory infections etc.
There are no physical signs and symptoms of osteoporosis. After getting you examined, if your doctor suspects an osteoporosis case in your body, then they will conduct some tests to clear the air. Some methods of diagnosis of osteoporosis are as follows—
- DEXA (Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) to measure the density of the bones
In this test your result can be –
Normal – means your risk of getting a fracture or osteoporosis is low
Osteopenia – This means that your bones are getting weaker but your risk of getting fracture or osteoporosis is still low
Osteoporosis – This means you have a great risk of getting fractures. Your bones are so weak that they can break or fracture even because of a strong cough.
Every woman should go for a DEXA test yearly. And when it comes to young men or men 70 years of age, they can go with a bone density check.
Treatment of osteoporosis:
There is no cure for osteoporosis but some measures can help to reduce the risk to its lowest. These measures are as follows —
- Medications (antiresorptive agents is the best-known medicine for osteoporosis, till now)
- Vitamin and calcium intake
- Exercises (especially yoga and weight-bearing exercise)
- Hormone-related therapy
- Hormone medications
- Calcitonin-salmon is a synthetic hormone
- Testosterone therapy
- Bisphosphonates medication, like alendronate, zoledronic acid etc.
- Biologics (denosumab)
- Anabolic agents
- Supplements of vitamin D and calcium
- Diet – Apart from medications, diet and lifestyle changes plays an important role to strengthen our bones and overall health. To keep your bones and overall health, strong and healthy; you must include nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, etc. in your diet.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Consume healthy foods
- Avoid falling or fracture prone areas to walk
There are many factors that you can not avoid, such as being female, old age, etc. But, along with the above-mentioned ways, you can opt —
- Consumption of calcium and vitamin D as required
- Practicing weight-bearing exercises
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
- Maintaining the hormonal balance etc.