Osteoporosis Causes & Treatment
What are Osteoporosis?
The word ‘osteoporosis’ means ‘porous bone’. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis means that you have less bone mass and strength. The disease often develops without any symptoms or pain, and it is usually not discovered until the weakened bones cause painful fractures. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine.
However, you can take steps to help prevent the disease and fractures by:
- Staying physically active by participating in weight-bearing exercises such as walking.
- Drinking alcohol in moderation.
- Quitting smoking, or not starting if you don’t smoke.
- Taking your medications, if prescribed, which can help prevent fractures in people who have osteoporosis.
- Eating a nutritious diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to help maintain good bone health.
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Symptoms & Causes of Osteoporosis
Symptoms Usually, there are no symptoms of osteoporosis. That is why it is sometimes called a silent disease. However, you should watch out for the following things:
- Loss of height (getting shorter by an inch or more).
- Change in posture (stooping or bending forward).
- Shortness of breath (smaller lung capacity due to compressed disks).
- Bone fractures.
- Pain in the lower back.
- General Body Pains
- Bone Pains
- Bones fracture even in small injuries
- Bending of Spine
Causes Your bones are in a constant state of renewal — new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you’re young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and your bone mass increases. After the early 20s this process slows, and most people reach their peak bone mass by age 30. As people age, bone mass is lost faster than it’s created.
How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. Peak bone mass is partly inherited and varies also by ethnic group. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.
Some risk factors for osteoporosis are out of your control, including:
- Your sex. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than are men.
- Age. The older you get, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
- Race. You’re at greatest risk of osteoporosis if you’re white or of Asian descent.
- Family history. Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk, especially if your mother or father fractured a hip.
- Body frame size. Men and women who have small body frames tend to have a higher risk because they might have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
Diagnosis of Osteoporosis
Your bone density can be measured by a machine that uses low levels of X-rays to determine the proportion of mineral in your bones. During this painless test, you lie on a padded table as a scanner passes over your body. In most cases, only certain bones are checked — usually in the hip and spineThis exam is used to measure bone mineral density (BMD). It is most commonly performed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or bone densitometry. The amount of x-rays absorbed by tissues and bone is measured by the DXA machine and correlates with bone mineral density.
The DXA machine converts bone density information to your T score and Z score. The T score measures the amount of bone you have in comparison to a normal population of younger people and is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture and need for drug therapy. Your Z score measures the amount of bone you have in comparison to those in your age group. This number can help indicate whether there is a need for further medical tests.
The following procedures can be performed to determine bone fractures due to osteoporosis:
- Bone x-ray: Bone x-ray produces images of bones within the body, including the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, foot, ankle, leg (shin), knee, thigh, hip, pelvis or spine. It aids in the diagnosis of fractured bones, which are sometimes a result of osteoporosis.
- CT scan of the spine: CT scanning of the spine is performed to assess for alignment and fractures. It can be used to measure bone density and determine whether vertebral fractures are likely to occur.
- MRI of the spine: Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine is performed to evaluate vertebral fractures for evidence of underlying disease, such as cancer, and to assess if the fracture is old or new. New fractures usually demonstrate a better response to treatment by vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.
There are many FDA-approved medications to choose from for the treatment of osteoporosis including:
- Hormone Therapy
- RANK ligand inhibitor
- Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)
- Parathyroid hormone analog
- Monthly and yearly Injections
- Bone Formation Therapy
- Healthy Diet.
A prescription is required for these medications and medical evaluation is required before treatment.
Compression fractures in the vertebra can occur as a result of osteoporosis. In these cases, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, performed by a radiologist, may be an option to treat painful spine fractures. With vertebroplasty, image guidance is used to inject a special cement mixture through a hollow needle into the fractured bone. In kyphoplasty, a balloon is inserted through the needle into the fractured bone to create a cavity. Once the balloon is removed, a cement mixture is injected into the cavity.
In some cases of compression fracture, surgical treatment may be required, especially if there is evidence of severe narrowing of your spinal canal.