OSTEOPOROSIS: Symptoms, Diagnoses and Treatment

by | Jun 5, 2019 |

Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by the decreased bone density that occurs when the body loses too much bone or unable to produce sufficient new bones. As a result, bones become weak and therefore, increase the risk of bone fracture. When a bone breaks partially or completely then it causes a bone fracture. Osteoporosis isn’t painful until a fracture occurs. The most common fractures (injuries) in people with osteoporosis include wrist fractures, hip fractures, and a spinal fracture. It mainly affects older women (after menopause due to hormonal changes).

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is also called a silent disease because it occurs without any symptoms in the early stages of bone loss but, once bones become weaker then it shows some signs which include:

  • Severe back pain or neck pain
  • Loss of height
  • Stooped posture (head and shoulders bent forwards)
  • Bone fractures

Complications

Osteoporosis can lead to some serious complications which include fractures, osteoarthritis, bone cancer, and dowager’s hump (when the spinal bones become weaker to the point).

Risk Factors

The factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis include:

  • Age: In young age, the body makes new bones faster than it breaks down older bones but with age or after 30 years, bone mass is lost faster than it is created.
  • Gender: It mainly affects women than men due to early menopause, inadequate physical activity, deficiency of estrogen, etc.
  • Race: White or Asian people are at highest risk.
  • Poor Diet:
    • Low calcium and vitamin D intake: Low levels of calcium and vitamin D reduces bone density and increase the risk of fracture.
    • Eating disorder: Excess intake of sodium, caffeine, and soft drinks weakens bone.
  • Medications: Long-term use of certain medications can also increase the risk of osteoporosis which includes heparin, lithium, anticonvulsants, immunosuppressive drugs, steroids, and excess thyroxine.
  • Alcohol consumption and smoking: Cigarette smoking and drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of bone loss and fractures.

Diagnosis

There are different methods to diagnose osteoporosis include:

  • Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA): It is used to measure bone mineral density usually in the hip, wrist, and spine to check calcium content in the bones.
  • CT- Scan of the spine: It is used to measure the density of bones and also to check for alignment and fractures.
  • Bone X-ray: It shows images of bones within the body like the hand, wrist, shoulder, arms, etc.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine: The MRI of the spine is used to detect vertebral fractures.

Prevention and Treatment

The major steps taken to prevent osteoporosis are:

  • Exercise your bones to get stronger bones. Other physical activities such as aerobics, yoga, jogging, and walking are also effective.
  • Eat a healthy diet and quit alcohol, sodas, smoking, etc.
  • Take adequate calcium and vitamin D.

Along with the above lifestyle changes, osteoporosis treatment also includes:

  • Medications – The most widely used medications for the treatment of osteoporosis are bisphosphonates include alendronate, risedronate, and zoledronic acid, etc. which either slowdown the rate of bone loss or increases the rate of bone formation. Some hormones like medications such as raloxifene are also used to treat osteoporosis.
  • Therapies
    • Hormone replacement therapy: It is used for women who are suffering menopause to maintain bone density and reduce the risk of fracture during treatment.
    • Hip replacement: Surgical repair with screws and plates
    • Vertebroplasty: It helps to prevent from fracture of vertebrae and curved spine.
    • Kyphoplasty: It helps to restore the height and shape of the vertebra
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