Osteoporosis is the deterioration of bone tissue. This condition, which occurs four times more in women than in men, can lead to chronic pain, severe stress on the bones and even immobility.
Often called a “silent disease,” osteoporosis can progress without the onset of any symptoms or pain. Loss of height or the emergence of a Dowager’s hump over years may occur; however, the initial diagnosis of osteoporosis often occurs after a bone fracture occurs.
Cause & Risk factors
Although there is no known cause for osteoporosis, there are risk factors — both inherent and lifestyle — that can increase the likelihood of developing the disease.
Genetic predisposition: Familial history and genetic makeup have been found to be associated with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. If a parent has a history of broken bones, then his or her child is more likely to break a bone and have reduced bone mass.
Sex & age: Although men do suffer from osteoporosis, women are four times more likely to develop the ailment. While anyone of any age can have osteoporosis, the risk of experiencing serious fractures and chronic pain increases with age.
Menopause: Post-menopausal women have an increased susceptibility to osteoporosis due to loss of estrogen, which normally aids in protecting bone tissue.
Body composition: People who are thin and have small bones are more likely to develop osteoporosis than larger people.
Lifestyle: Several vitamins and minerals promote bone health. Two of the most crucial are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium serves as a building block for bones, while vitamin D enables the body to use that calcium. Other important elements that are essential to bone health include magnesium, potassium, vitamin K and healthy amounts of protein. Unbalanced diets and especially those lacking calcium and vitamin D can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Physical Activity & Weight Loss: People who are not physically active may be more susceptible to osteoporosis than those who are. Regular exercise that aids in bone growth and strength can lower risks of bone fractures. However, while regular exercise contributes to bone health, weight loss and its subsequent bone loss- especially after age 50, can increase risk of osteoporosis.
Medical history: A person who has one or more broken bones is more likely to break other bones. People, especially adults, who fracture bones may unknowingly already have osteoporosis. Also, the use of certain medication – including extended use of steroids (prednisone), thyroid medication, anticonvulsants and antacids, among others – can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Treatment & Prevention of Osteoporosis
Treatment for osteoporosis can include dietary supplements, prescribed medication and adjustments to a person’s lifestyle. Some treatments prevent or slow bone loss, while others restore the needed materials that contribute to bone strength and protection.
Regular exercise and maintaining a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D (or taking supplements to get the missing value) are all methods of lowering risk for osteoporosis.
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