Osteoporosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Overview

Osteoporosis is bone disease characterized by the decrease in bone density. It can increase bone weakness and may lead to bone fractures. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. It is the most common reason for a broken bone among the elderly.

Bone is living tissue that circulates the process of being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the production of new bone cannot keep up with the removal of old bone. Osteoporosis affects men and women of all ethnic groups. But white and Asian women, especially older women who are past menopause, are at highest risk.

In America, more than 53 million people either have osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing it. This accounts for about 55% of the U.S. population aged 50 years and older.

Causes

Osteoporosis results from a loss of bone mass, which is measured as bone density. 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. As people age, bone mass is lost faster than it’s created, thus increasing your risk for developing osteoporosis.

Several risks factors for having this disease include:

  • Gender.

Women are at a higher risk to be affected than men.

  • Age.

Older people are more likely to develop osteoporosis.

  • Race.

If you’re white or of Asian descent, you may be at greater risk.

  • Family history.

Having a family member with osteoporosis puts you at higher risk.

  • Body frame size.

People who have small body frames tend to have a higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age.

These factors are unchangeable, but there do exist some factors that you may be able to change. They include:

  • Low levels of sex hormone
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet low in calcium and vitamin D levels
  • Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and heparin
  • Health conditions that can affect bones, including chronic inflammation or bowel disease

Symptoms

Before bone fracture occurs, Osteoporosis can be present without any symptoms for decades. If symptoms do appear, some of them may include:

  • Backache
  • Receding gums
  • Weakened grip strength
  • Weak and brittle nails
  • Increased risk of falling
  • A gradual loss of height accompanying stooped posture

If you don’t have symptoms but have a family history of osteoporosis, talking to your doctor can help you examine your risk.

Diagnosis

To diagnose osteoporosis, your doctor will review your medical history and do a physical exam. They may also run blood and urine tests to check for conditions that may cause bone loss. If your doctor thinks you may have osteoporosis or that you’re at risk of developing it, they’ll suggest a bone density test.

This test is called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). It uses X-rays to measure the density of the bones in your wrists, hips, or spine. It is the best current test to measure the bone density. The test result is measured in the T-score. If your T-score is above -1, it indicates normal. If the T-score is below 2.5, it shows that you have osteoporosis and most likely need treatment. If the T-score is between -1 and -2.5, it reveals mild loss of bone density.

Treatment

Treatment varies depending on your risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years. If the risk is not high, treatment might not include medication but focus on changing risk factors for bone loss and falls. If the risk is high, the most widely used medications for osteoporosis are bisphosphonates, including alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia), ibandronate (Boniva) and zoledronic acid (Reclast).

Other medications that may be used to prevent bone loss or stimulate bone growth include:

In addition to medications, you should take care of your lifestyle. Make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet or from taking supplements. Physical exercise is also helpful, especially weight-bearing exercise, such as walking. Be careful not to fall to prevent osteoporosis complications. You should also reduce or avoid smoking and alcohol drinking.


Keyword: osteoporosis.

Related Posts:

Bone Density Test

Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Osteoporosis of the Jaw: Symptoms, Treatment

What is Treatment for Spinal Fracture?

What Can I Do to Prevent Bone Loss and Avoid Fractures?

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.