Learn Everything You Need to Know About Osteoporosis
It is estimated that 200 million individuals throughout the world have osteoporosis. While men and women both can get the disease, women are four times likelier to get it than men. One in four men and one in two women after age 50 will have a fracture related to osteoporosis in their lifetime.
What is Osteoporosis?
The bones in our bodies are growing, living tissue that changes throughout our lives. As we age, our bones become weak and we experience bone loss. Osteoporosis occurs when we lose too much bone. The weaker our bones get, the easier it is for them to fracture or break. In fact, a mere sneeze or a minor bump can cause a broken bone or fracture in more serious cases. The problem is, you may not even know you have osteoporosis until after the disease has progressed and you fracture a bone, since you may not have any symptoms. The most common symptoms are fractures of the spine, hip, or wrist.
Main Causes of Osteoporosis
Our bodies are constantly absorbing bone tissue and then replacing them. With osteoporosis, our bodies can no longer create new bone fast enough to keep up with the demand for old bone loss. This usually happens after age 30, when the body reaches its bone mass peak. The inside of our bones is called trabecular bone, and it looks like a sponge. The outer shell is a dense bone called cortical bone, which wraps around the trabecular. The holes within the spongy part, multiply and expand when osteoporosis occurs, and the bone weakens inside.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
There are usually no symptoms of osteoporosis in its early stages, which is why some call it a silent disease. However, as the disease progresses, some of the following may occur:
- Height loss (you may get around an inch shorter when osteoporosis occurs)
- Shortness of breath (as the disks compress, resulting in less lung capacity)
- Change in posture (people tend to lean forward because of osteoporosis)
- Lower back pain (this is usually caused by collapsed vertebra or a fracture)
- Fragile bones (bones may break or fracture easily)
An x-ray may reveal signs of the disease as the bones appear lighter and thinner than normal.
There is currently no cure for osteoporosis, but there are treatments that include medications, weight-bearing exercise, and a healthy diet to strengthen weak bones and help reduce bone loss. The most common treatments are:
Your diet should include plenty of calcium or consider taking calcium supplements to help strengthen your bones.
Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D in your diet as it helps to absorb calcium from the foods, you eat.
Try to exercise when you can. Weight-bearing exercise, like walking, is especially beneficial for those with osteoporosis.
There are several different medications available to help prevent and manage osteoporosis, such as:
- Select estrogen receptor modulators
- Hormone or estrogen replacement therapy
- Strontium ranelate
- Teriparatide (Forteo)
- Denosumab (Prolia)
Have You Or a Loved One Been Diagnosed with Osteoporosis?
Find out more about this chronic bone disease that causes over two million fractures every year. Set up an appointment today to consult with one of our extremely knowledgeable physicians online.