What Is Osteoporosis? Symptoms And How To Treat

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weak and are more likely to break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the scientific name for a disease in which bones become weaker, more fragile, and brittle, predisposing an individual to more cracks and fractures. This should not be confused with a similar sounding condition called osteoporosis. The latter is a rare, inherited disorder that also predisposes a person to a greater risk of fracture as a result of over-hardening of the bone as opposed to the weakening of it. In any case, osteoporosis is a pretty famous condition, one that even a caveman who was out of the dark enclave for even a day would have heard of.

While men, cavemen or otherwise, can be affected by this condition, it’s more common in women, especially post-menopausal women. Besides advanced age and sex, there are other factors that influence someone’s likelihood to develop osteoporosis. Drinking alcohol, smoking, leading an inactive lifestyle, soda, and many other factors, such as metabolic diseases or other medical conditions, can predispose an individual to developing osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis In Women

Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis because bone loss becomes more rapid for several years after the menopause, when sex hormone levels decrease. In addition, women tend to have smaller bones than men and in general live longer, with loss of bone tissue continuing for longer, making fragility fractures more likely.

Osteoporosis In Men

Osteoporosis is not a condition that just affects women, although this is a common misconception. If you are a man, you might be thinking osteoporosis can’t affect you as it’s a ‘women’s problem’, but, in fact, one in five men break a bone after the age of 50 years because of low bone strength. Men with osteoporosis tell us that this confusion can sometimes make it more difficult to come to terms with the condition and to seek help and support.

Younger men and women and osteoporosis

Younger men and women (before the menopause) can also, but more unusually, have osteoporosis and fractures. Usually an underlying condition or reason is identified but sometimes no cause is found. The medical word for this is ’idiopathic’. If you are a healthy younger person who is frequently breaking bones, this can be particularly distressing. Diagnosing and treating osteoporosis in men and in younger women and children is complex and generally a referral to a hospital specialist is recommended.

What are the Types of Osteoporosis?

The major types of osteoporosis are:

# Primary Osteoporosis

It is the most common form of osteoporosis found in women. It is marked by accelerated loss in bone mass after the menopause. This is linked to reduced oestrogen and testosterone production after a certain age in women and men, respectively.

# Secondary Osteoporosis

It results from medical conditions like hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, and leukemia. It can also be caused due to heavy intake of corticosteroids that cause the bones to break.

# Osteogenesis Imperfecta

It is a rare form of osteoporosis that is acquired right from the birth.

# Idiopathic Juvenile Osteoporosis

It is also a rare form of osteoporosis that occurs in small children aged between 8 and 14 years.

What are the Causes of Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a typical bone disorder that affects the effectiveness of the skeletal framework of your body. Understanding the causes of this disease is important to devise methods for the treatment and prevention of this disease.

Some of these causes are:

Certain causes of osteoporosis are beyond human control, like heredity, age, sex, and ethnicity. Women are more prone to osteoporosis as compared to men, and heredity plays a role in causing osteoporosis.

Some other causes which form an important part of our lifestyle choice are:

  • • Consumption of alcohol in excess
  • • Smoking and boozing
  • • Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa
  • • Exposure to environmental pollutants like lead
  • • Inactivity, lethargy, and perceived fatigue
  • • A diet without essential nutrients and supplements like calcium, phosphate, vitamin D, and proteins.

Certain medical treatments and medicines can also result in osteoporosis. They are:

  • • Corticosteroids/Glucosteroids which are used to treat arthritis, asthma, and other disorders can cause osteoporosis.
  • • Treatments for cancer, like chemotherapy or any other hormone replacement therapy that affects the level of sex hormones in the body, can cause this bone disorder.
  • • Antiseizure or anticonvulsant medicines taken continuously for a very long time can result in osteoporosis

What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

Although, symptoms of osteoporosis are not visible until quite late, it is important to be cautious about the same. Some of the symptoms are:

  • • Fractures due to minor falls or injuries
  • • Bone and joint pains without any reason
  • • Stooping or height loss
  • • Back pain and curve in the upper back

How to Diagnose Osteoporosis Pain?

Symptoms of osteoporosis are not visible easily, not until the disease has taken a good hold of your body. You need to be conscious about your health and increasing age. Any pain or discomfort in bones or joints should be brought to the notice of a doctor.

Osteoporosis can be diagnosed in a number of ways. Most of them are non-invasive and do not cause any pain. A common method of diagnosis is DXA that measures the mass of bone in the spine, the hip, and other parts of the body as well. Another method is the bone mineral density test. These tests detect loss in bone mass. You can also go for osteoporosis screening in which your genetic and family disease history is considered while diagnosing your bone problem.

How Osteoporosis is Treated?

The treatment of osteoporosis involves five major elements. They are as follows:

  • • Medication protects bones from further degeneration. Doctors generally prescribe
  • • Bisphosphonates (like Fosomax and Boniva) for preserving the bones and bringing them back to their normal mass.
  • • Exercise builds up the strength of bones and increases bone density.
  • • A proper diet helps in overcoming the weakness and pain caused due to osteoporosis.
  • • Supplements provide the vital nutrients that are lacking in the body. Some common supplements provided are Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphate tablets.
  • • Safety and precaution ensures that you do not fall and fracture any of your bones. The whole idea is to prevent any kind of injury.

8 Foods that Help Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is caused by a calcium deficiency in bone marrow, so it’s very important to find out what foods can help us increase this mineral that’s indispensable to our bodies, especially when it comes to maintaining bone health. Among the foods we can include in our diet to prevent osteoporosis, we especially recommend the following:

# Fish and seafood

Among the many types of fish and seafood, the most highly recommended for preventing osteoporosis are sardines, tuna, clams, shrimp, and other similar types.

# Beans

Beans and other legumes are high in calcium, and can also deliver very good amounts of fiber. But it’s important to recognize how to cook and prepare them correctly.

# Vegetables

The most important vegetables for preventing osteoporosis are spinach, broccoli, and Swiss chard.

# Nuts

All types of nuts are rich in calcium, but almonds beat out all the rest with the highest amounts of calcium. However, be careful with the consumption of nuts because they’re also high in calories.

# Vitamin K

Vitamin K is important in the production of a protein called osteocalcin, which helps bones store minerals properly. Foods that contain it are typically collard greens, broccoli, and lettuce.

# Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential element of our diet in the prevention of osteoporosis because it helps form, maintain, and repair healthy bone structure. Foods rich in this important vitamin are citrus fruits, green peppers, and kiwi fruits, among many others.

# Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium – it would be useless to eat foods that are rich in calcium without also supplying the body with adequate vitamin D. This vitamin is found in tuna, mackerel, oily fish, salmon, and some fortified cereals.

# Vitamin A

This important vitamin helps us maintain healthy and strong bones. It can be found in large quantities in carrots, squash, as well as all orange and yellow colored fruits and vegetables.

Also read – What Is Thyroid, Symptoms And What To Eat or Not

Note:Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.

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