Bones throughout the body are critical to our everyday function.
Healthy bones mean a person can perform day-to-day activities without a problem, whether this includes washing the dishes or something more intense. A weight-bearing exercise is a good example.
Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy healthy bones throughout their lives.
Certain conditions, such as osteoporosis, can harm bones. The disease affects the bones and can become a disabling condition.
Even though symptoms generally develop gradually, many people will experience a significant reduction in their abilities as the disease becomes worse.
We consider what osteoporosis is, what causes the condition, and the symptoms that patients need to look out for.
We will also consider if it is possible to prevent osteoporosis, and for patients already diagnosed, we look at how to treat osteoporosis as well.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is one of the common bone diseases that are seen all over the world. Osteoporosis is a condition, which weakens and brittles the bones.
The osteoporosis patients can have such weak bones that even mild stress like coughing can cause a bone fracture. According to the statistic, there are 44 million Americans aged 50 or above who are either found with a low bone mass or osteoporosis.
This statistic shows that many people are struggling due to osteoporosis. The good news is that you can reduce the risk of being diagnosed with osteoporosis with a healthy lifestyle.
It is recommended that you do everything you can to prevent this disease. This disease will not only make your bone fragile, but it also seriously affects your self-esteem and quality of life. Many elderly people are found in a miserable condition in health care homes.
What causes Osteoporosis?
It’s essential to be aware of the causes so that one could avoid the risk factors for osteoporosis. Here are some of the causes of osteoporosis.
- Depletion of calcium: Calcium is one of the critical nutrients that are for a healthy bone. As we age, our body goes through plenty of negative changes, which are very hard to avoid. One of the adverse effects of aging is a depletion of calcium, without which it is tough to maintain the strength of the bones. Furthermore, we can also observe a low bone density among elderly people. These changes often lead to osteoporosis.
- Asian women are more prone to osteoporosis: The study has found that Asian women are more prone to osteoporosis in comparison to others. If you’re an Asian woman, then you must give more emphasis to your bone health. It is found that Asian women consume far less calcium in comparison to Caucasian women. This increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Furthermore, the study also shows that Asian Americans are among the thinnest people in America. Although it is not recommended to be overweight or obese; however, it is found that thinner people have lesser bone mass than heavier people.
- Menopause is linked with osteoporosis: The study shows that there is a link between osteoporosis and menopause. After menopause, women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. The menopause reduces the level of hormone (estrogen) in the body, which increases the risk of osteoporosis. And, women have no or infrequent menstrual periods during menopause. This reduces bone mass.
- The size of the bone: The size of the bone in a person also determines the risk of osteoporosis. The bigger the size of the bone, the lesser the risk of osteoporosis. It is because a bigger bone has more calcium deposits in it. And, the low bone density is also one of the causes of osteoporosis.
- Family history: If there is a family history of osteoporosis, then the risk of being diagnosed with an osteoporosis increase. You should take good care of your bone health.
- Medications: The medicines that we consume can reduce calcium storage in our bones. This spike the risk of osteoporosis.
What are the symptoms of Osteoporosis?
People who have risk factors associated with osteoporosis need to ensure they understand the symptoms to look out for.
The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more effective treatments would be. Patients also need to realize that existing damage that the disease does to bones is irreversible.
When symptoms are identified at an early stage of the condition, it means the progression can be significantly reduced.
Common symptoms that patients need to be on the lookout for, which may be a sign of osteoporosis, include:
- There may be a gradual reduction in the patient’s weight as the disease progress
- The patient’s posture may become stooped
- Bones will break easier and faster than what is generally expected
- In cases where the vertebra is fractured or collapses, back pain will also develop
While some of these symptoms might be an indication of other problems, too, it is important for a patient to gain the appropriate tests. An official diagnosis should be obtained; they notice the development of signs linked to osteoporosis.
What are the possible complications of Osteoporosis?
Failure to recognize the symptoms of osteoporosis during an early stage of the disease increases the patient’s risk of suffering from the complications that the condition is known to cause. Several complications can be expected because the disease causes bones to become weaker.
Bone fractures are considered the primary concern. People who are diagnosed with osteoporosis are at a higher risk of fractures to their bones that those individuals who do not have the disease.
A fracture can happen in any bone of the body. But fractures are most common in the hip, wrist, and spine (vertebral fractures). Vertebrae support your body, helping you to stand and sit up.
The fracture risk is especially important when looking at the hip bone and the spine. These are two particular areas were people often experience fractures. A hip fracture and a spine fracture can both cause a severe reduction in a patient’s general abilities – and lead to disability.
People with osteoarthritis are not only at risk of these fractures upon a fall. There have been cases where a spine fracture was recorded in a patient when they did not suffer a fall.
This generally happens when the vertebrae bones weaken to such an extent where they begin to crumble. In such a case, the patient will experience severe pain symptoms and may find that a fracture develops without any apparent causes – such as a direct impact on them or a fall.
Even though the spin and hip areas are the primary concerns in patients with osteoporosis, other bones in the body can also be affected – and can also fracture much easier when a patient has developed this disease.
How is Osteoporosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of osteoporosis is generally considered a straightforward process. The patient does, however, first need to undergo a consultation with a doctor.
The doctor will ask the patient about the symptoms that they are experiencing. A history of the patient’s medical record will be requested as well. This can help the doctor determine if the individual is at a higher risk for osteoporosis – or if any other potential diseases and conditions need to be ruled out.
The doctor will also ask about the patient’s family history of bone-related diseases. This will help them determine if there could be a genetic part to the development of osteoporosis in the patient.
When osteoporosis is suspected, the doctor will order an X-ray test to be conducted on the patient. A common test is a central dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA scan).
A DEXA is a special type of x-ray of your bones. This test uses a very low amount of radiation. This allows for the determination of bone density in the body of the individual. The bone mineral density, in particular, will be tested with this low-level x-ray imaging test.
The x-ray test is relatively simple and will not cause the patient any pain. The patient will be requested to lie down on a table – there will be padding on the table to help the patient feel comfortable during the test. A scanner will then be moved over the body.
The diagnostic tests used for osteoporosis usually focus primarily on identifying the bone mineral density of bones in the patient’s spine, as well as in the hip region.
How Is Osteoporosis Treated?
When a patient is diagnosed with osteoporosis, the treatments provided will depend on the severity of the condition.
Patients must realize this disease is not considered curable. It is a chronic and long-term disease that will gradually cause further damage to their bones.
This does not mean the disease is not treatable, however. There are many effective ways in which a patient can manage osteoporosis following the diagnosis of the disease.
A doctor will generally try to determine how high the patient’s risk is to break a bone within the next decade. When low risk is identified, then certain lifestyle modifications will generally be advised to the individual. This helps to reduce the need for medications that may come with side-effects.
In cases where there is a higher likeliness of the person breaking a bone in the next decade, more intensive treatment of osteoporosis may be required. This generally involves the use of certain drugs to assist with reducing the rate at which damage is caused to the bones.
The most common medication used to treat osteoporosis today include:
- Risedronate, sold under the brand names Atelvia and Actonel
- Zoledronic acid, available under the brand names Zometa and Reclast
- Ibandronate, most commonly sold as Boniva
- Alendronate, available as Fosamax or Binosto
In some cases, the doctor may advise the patient to obtain monoclonal antibody medication. This generally includes the use of denosumab – the brand names for the medicine include Prolia and Xgeva.
Hormone therapy is sometimes also used to help with the management of osteoarthritis symptoms and the effects that the disease has on the patient’s body.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends taking menopausal hormone therapy at the lowest dose that works for your menopause symptoms for the shortest time needed.
It is important to bear in mind that most treatments have side effects, and menopausal hormone therapy may raise your risk of a blood clot, heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, or gallbladder disease. Speak with your doctor about the potential side effects before having treatment.
Can You Prevent Osteoporosis?
By now, you must have known that some categories of people have a higher risk of being diagnosed with osteoporosis.
However, there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Get rid of your bad habits: Many people smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. It not only damages your lungs and liver, but it also degrades your bone health. It increases the chances of fractures, and it obstructs the production of new bone cells.
- Do not live a passive life: There are many disadvantages of living a passive life. An inactive life will not help you if you are struggling with arthritis; it can play a part in making you overweight or obese, and a passive life will not allow your bone to develop. Physical activity is important. Choose weight-bearing physical activities like running or dancing to build and strengthen your bones.
- Estrogen level: A low level of estrogen in women is linked with osteoporosis. You should do everything you can to maintain an optimum level of estrogen in your body.
- Try to avoid acidic beverages: It is recommended to stay away from acidic drinks. These beverages are harmful, as most of them contain phosphoric acid, which can degrade your bone health.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: No matter your calcium intake you consume, it is of no use if your body does not absorb it properly. Add foods with vitamin D, as it helps in the absorption of vital nutrients like calcium. You can also get calcium through food or calcium supplements.
- Restrain from a lot of physical exercises: While it’s recommended to be involved in regular workouts, but it does not mean that you should spend a lot of time in exercising your body. A high level of physical workouts and endurance training can reduce the strength of your bones.
- High dietary protein: There is no doubt that protein is one of the important macronutrients, and you should consume an optimum level of protein in your diet. However, excessive dietary protein is not beneficial for your bone health, even though 50% of the bone volume is made up of protein. The study shows that excessive dietary protein may be linked to fractures and osteoporosis.
Living With Osteoporosis
People with osteoporosis, they should ensure they do their part in the management of the condition.
There are several home remedies and lifestyle modifications that have been proven to assist in reducing the rate at which the disease damages bones.
This can help to reduce the patient’s risk of fractures and other complications associated with osteoporosis.
- Patients who smoke should try quitting. Smoking has been found to increase the rate at which bone mineral density decreases in patients with osteoporosis. The same should be said about alcohol. Excessive alcohol usage can interfere with the formation of new bone tissue. It also makes the patient more likely to fall – which means they are at a higher risk of osteoporotic fracture
- Additionally, the patient should also use certain strategies to help minimize the risk of falls. This would include the installation of grab bars at appropriate locations. Wearing shoes with low heels also reduces the fall and fracture risk, particularly when compared to high-heel shoes.
It’s imperative for every human being to take good care of their bone health. While it is true that some people may be at more risk of osteoporosis in comparison to others; however, they too can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by modifying their lifestyle.
And, there are also treatment methods for the people who are suffering from osteoporosis thanks to medications, therapies, and lifestyle modifications that can improve their condition.
If you are a young person, then it’s better to do everything you can to enhance your bone health for minimizing the risks of osteoporosis and other bone diseases.