Osteoporosis, often called "the silent disease", is a bone disease characterized by decrease in bone mass and density resulting in brittle, fragile bones that are more susceptible to fractures, even without injury. The condition most commonly develops in elderly women.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of osteoporosis is not known, however the factors that increases the risk of developing osteoporosis include:
- Poor nutrition
- Poor calcium intake
- Lack of exercise
- Being a woman
- Being postmenopausal
- Being Asian
- Having a thin and small body frame
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, Cushing's syndrome and hyperparathyroidism
Some medications such as corticosteroids, endometriosis medications, thyroid replacement medications, and antacids containing aluminum may contribute to bone thinning.
Osteoporosis usually causes no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Later as the condition progresses it may cause the following symptoms:
- Low back pain and neck pain due to fractures of the spinal bones
- Dull pain in the bones accompanied by tenderness
- Loss of the height of the spine giving a stooped posture (dowager hump)
- Fractures from minimal trauma or no trauma at all
Your doctor will make the diagnosis of osteoporosis based on the medical history, physical examination and a bone density test. Bone mineral density test is a painless, non-invasive and safe method of measuring bone density that employs dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).
In some cases, your doctor may order spine or hip x-rays for determining vertebral collapses or fractures.
The goal of treatment is to control pain and to prevent bone fractures by reducing the bone loss. There are different treatment options for osteoporosis including:
- Diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Exercise: Regular exercises can decrease the risk of developing bone fractures in people with osteoporosis. Your doctor may recommend exercises such as weight bearing exercises, riding stationary bicycles, using rowing machines, walking, and jogging.
- Medications: Certain medications are available that are used to strengthen bones and to stop bone loss.
The tips to preventing osteoporosis may include:
- Consuming a healthy balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Quit smoking and avoid excessive alcohol intake
- Exercise regularly
- Take medications to prevent osteoporosis
- Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which your bones become thin, weak, and are more susceptible to fractures, even without injury.