What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops when bone mineral density and bone mass decreases, or when the quality or structure of bone changes. This can lead to a decrease in bone strength that can increase the risk of fractures (broken bones).
Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease because you typically do not have symptoms, and you may not even know you have the disease until you break a bone. So, what is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is the major cause of fractures in postmenopausal women and in older men. Fractures can occur in any bone but happen most often in bones of the hip, vertebrae in the spine, and wrist.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis occurs when too much bone mass is lost, and damages occur in the structure of bone tissue. Certain risk factors may lead to the development of osteoporosis or can increase the likelihood that you will develop the disease.
Many people with osteoporosis have several risk factors but others who develop osteoporosis may not have any specific risk factors. There are some risk factors that you cannot change, and others that you may change. However, by understanding these factors, you may be able to prevent the disease and fractures.
Factors that may increase your risk for osteoporosis include:
Sex, age, body size, race, family history, change to hormones, diet, other medical conditions, medication, and lifestyle
Diagnosis of Osteoporosis
The diagnosis of osteoporosis centers on the assessment of bone mineral density (BMD) which is a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). It’s a quick, painless, and noninvasive test.
During your visit with your doctor, remember to report:
- Any previous fractures
- Your lifestyle habits including diet, exercise, alcohol use, and smoking history
- Current or past medical conditions and medications that could contribute to low bone mass and increase fracture risk
- Your family history of osteoporosis and other disease
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is called a “silent “disease because there are typically no symptoms until a bone is broken or one or more vertebrae fracture. Symptoms of vertebral fracture include severe back pain, loss of height, or spine malformations such as a stooped or hunched posture.
Bones affected by osteoporosis may become so fragile that fractures occur spontaneously or as the result of: minor falls, such as a fall from standing height that would not normally cause a break in a healthy bone and normal stresses such as bending, lifting, or even coughing.
Treatment of Osteoporosis
The goal for treating osteoporosis is to slow or stop bone loss and to prevent fractures. Treatment for established osteoporosis may include, proper nutrition, lifestyle changes, fall prevention to help prevent fractures, exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements (Calcium, Vitamin D, and Protein) and medications.