Osteoporosis is a condition that generally leads to the weakening of the bones, which can make the person highly prone to fractures. The bones turn brittle, which increases the chances of sudden fractures even after mild stress on the affected bone. The condition can be so severe that it can lead to fractures even during bending or coughing. Such fractures may usually happen around the hips, wrist, and spine.
The disease may not give any indications by showing any signs or symptoms. One may find out about the condition only when it has caused substantial damage to the bones by causing a decline in bone mass and strength. Osteoporosis increases the susceptibility of the person to easy fractures.
Osteoporosis can happen in all sexes. Women after menopause are at a higher risk of developing this condition. It occurs due to the loss of bone density. It can be prevented with the help of medications, weight-bearing exercises, and a nutritious diet. Those diagnosed with this condition must get treatment, which will slow down the loss of bone density and eliminate the risk of sudden fracture.
Causes of osteoporosis
Bones are living tissues that constantly grow and get replaced from time to time. The structure of a healthy bone looks like a sponge from the inside which is wrapped by a dense cover from the outside. During osteoporosis, the pores inside the bones become larger as the bone loses its density. As a result, the bones become weak from the inside. Moreover, the speed with which the bone mass breaks down increases than its building after a certain age. This problem is common among both men and women after the age of 50.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
The person affected by this condition may remain asymptomatic during the early stages. They might discover it only after experiencing the following problems that occur when the condition becomes severe:
- A stooped or crouched posture
- Gradual loss of height
- Lower back pain
- Easy fractures and bone breakage
- Shortness of breath
Who is most likely to develop osteoporosis?
Although the risk of developing this condition among men and women is high in old age, women in their postmenopausal phase are more likely to have it than men in their 50s. This happens because women in their postmenopausal period go through loss of bone mass rapidly, which makes them more prone to fractures compared to men. However, the condition also affects men after 50.
Body stature and bone structure
Thin, lean, and petite people have small body types due to less bone. The chances of such people developing osteoporosis are quite high, as their bone structure is small, and any loss of bone mass can lead to fractures easily.
Moreover, Osteoporosis can run in the family. If your close relative is having it, then you must be careful. You must implement some lifestyle changes early on, which will help you in reducing the possibility of osteoporosis in the future.
The risk of osteoporosis is high among individuals with certain health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple myeloma, celiac disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and kidney, or liver disease. Getting treatment for these health conditions will reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
The side effects of certain types of medications can also lead to osteoporosis. The medications that increase the risk can be steroids, seizure medications, and medications for treating breast cancer. In case you are already using any of these medications, then it is necessary to talk to your healthcare provider and discuss with them how to eliminate the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Diagnosis of osteoporosis
According to Cleveland Clinic, your healthcare provider will suggest a diagnostic test to check the condition of your bones and their density. They will prescribe bone mineral density tests, also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA) scans. These scans reveal the condition of the bones of your lower back, spine, and wrists.
Moreover, Osteoporosis can be treated with the help of medications. Various types of medications can be prescribed by the healthcare provider depending on the severity. According to Mayo Clinic, the medications used for treating the condition include:
Individuals prone to fractures are prescribed these medications. These are the most widely used medications. They may lead to some common side effects, such as abdominal pain, nausea, fever, headache, etc.
These are shots that prevent bone loss. Denosumab works by blocking certain receptors in the body and lowering bone breakdown. Some common side effects of these shots are muscle pain and joint pain in the arms or legs.
The hormonal decline in males and females after a certain age can lead to this condition. In females, estrogen is a hormone that can decline after menopause. Estrogen therapy after post menopause period can help prevent the loss of bone mass. However, this therapy can enhance the risk of blood cancer, blood clots, and even stroke. In males, the decline in testosterone levels can contribute to osteoporosis. Testosterone replacement therapy might not be as effective as osteoporosis medications.
If the condition has reached a severe stage, then your healthcare provider might suggest bone-building medications to stimulate new bone growth. These are available in the form of medications or injections.