Osteoporosis: Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Medically Reviewed by Checkmark Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sravanthi Sunkaraneni

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, about 500 million people are affected by osteoporosis globally. About 1 in every 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 may experience fractures due to this condition. Osteoporosis can lead to severe disabilities and can lead to deaths due to hip fractures caused because of the condition.

Introduction

Osteoporosis results in decreased bone strength, making bones more susceptible to fractures that can occur accidentally and unexpectedly. The term “osteoporosis” means porous bone. The condition frequently advances without causing any symptoms, and it is only discovered when bones fracture. There can be a loss of bone mass and strength. 

The fractures encountered in osteoporosis are mainly hip, wrist, and spine fractures. 

If you have osteoporosis, available treatments can help slow down the rate of bone loss. Fractures may result in a reduction of the quality of your life. Pain and long-term home care can be long term consequences of this disease. People who have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it should be informed of the disease’s potential problems and seek treatment before complications arise.

Symptoms

Osteoporosis usually causes no symptoms. However, there are certain symptoms that may indicate this condition.

  1. Minor reduction in height (getting shorter by an inch or more).
  2. Stooping posture.
  3. Breathing problems (smaller lung capacity due to compressed disks).
  4. Fractures due to brittle bones
  5. Aches and pains in the back.

Causes

The part inside a healthy bone appears like a sponge as it has numerous pores or holes. When osteoporosis sets in, the “holes” in this part get bigger, weakening the bone.

Bone remodeling is a process of replacement of the mature bone tissue with new bone tissue in the skeleton. Till the age of 30, you may gain more bone than you lose. However, after that bone breakdown outpaces bone formation, resulting in a steady loss of bone mass.

Risk Factors

  1. The probability of developing osteoporosis and fractures rises with age. Women over 50 or postmenopausal women, on the other hand, are at the higher risk of osteoporosis. 
  2. Men over 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than to develop prostate cancer.
  3. Bone structure and body weight are important considerations. Petite and skinny persons are more likely to develop osteoporosis than larger people because of less bone to lose in the skinny individuals. 
  4. Family history: You may be at greater risk of osteoporosis if your parents or grandparents have had signs of the condition, such as a fractured hip after a minor fall.
  5. Eating habits: If your body doesn’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, you’re more likely to develop osteoporosis. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are risk factors.
  6. Sedentary lifestyles are linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
  7. Smoking and alcohol increase the risk of bone loss in osteoporosis.

Complications

  1. The most serious complication of osteoporosis is  fractures, particularly in the spine or hip. A decrease in bone mass is the most common cause of hip fractures, which can result in disability and even at greater risk of death within the first year after injury.
  2. Even without a fall, you may suffer a spinal fracture. Backache and a decrease in height can be a result of the bones that make up the spine (vertebrae) weakening to the point of collapse.

Diagnosis

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans or bone mineral density (BMD) testing is done in which very small doses of radiation are used to check the density of the bones in the body to diagnose osteoporosis.

Treatment

  1. Exercise, vitamins, mineral supplements, and medicines can be used to treat osteoporosis.
  2. Hormones can also be used: Estrogen, testosterone, and the selective estrogen receptor modulator raloxifene are all members of this class. 
    1. Estrogen treatment is likely to be used only in women who need to address menopause symptoms and in younger women due to the risk of blood clots, certain malignancies, and heart complications as age increases. 
    2. A man with low levels of testosterone, can be prescribed testosterone to increase bone density.
    3. Raloxifene has an estrogen-like effect on the bones. The medication comes in tablet form and is taken on a daily basis.

Prevention

The following measures will help in the general health of the body and bones:

  1. Hormone therapy, in addition to replacing lost estrogen, provides a protection against osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
  2. Diet: You need a calcium-rich diet throughout your life to maintain strong, healthy bones. 300 mg of calcium is found in one cup of skim or 1% fat milk.
  3. In addition to dairy products, fish with bones, sardines, kale, broccoli, calcium-fortified beverages and breads, dried figs, and calcium supplements are also good sources of calcium.
  4. Only 500 mg of calcium can be taken as a supplement at one time.
  5. Vitamin D is particularly critical because it increases calcium absorption in the body. Sunlight exposure and fortified milk are also good sources of vitamin D.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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