What is Osteoporosis: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Understanding What Is Osteoporosis

Bone disorders or skeletal disorders are of many types. The common types include bursitis, arthritis, fractures, scoliosis and osteoporosis. One of the most popular of these bone problems is the osteoporosis. People usually associate associate osteoporosis with aging people. Perhaps you also ask the question, osteoporosis, what is it?

Osteoporosis is associated with bone fractures or the susceptibility of bones to fractures. Our bones have a tendency to be fractured if we have some major trauma brought by falling, tripping or from an accident. The problem when you have osteoporosis is that even mild activity can cause bone fracture. The reason to that is your bones had gradually turned brittle and thin. It is considered an atrophy of the skeletal tissues. Aside from bone fractures, one can also experience pain, bone deformities and loss of height due to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis: Porous Bone

Osteoporosis comes from the Greek words osteon and porosis. Osteon means “bone” while porosis means “porous”, having holes or passage. So, osteoporosis means porous bones. Our bones are of two types which are the cortical bone and the trabecular bone. Cortical bones are the compact bones while trabecular bones are the spongy or cancellous bone. These two are then classified according to their unit microstructure or porosity.

As we know bone is a living tissue, a porous or mineralized structure composed of calcium compounds crystals -hydroxyapatite, bone cells and vessels. The cortical bone is about 80% of the skeletal structure known also as the compact bone as it makes a protective outer covering or shell for the bones. The trabecular bone is only 20% of the bone structure but actually makes 80% of the bone surface. Trabecular bones are considered the less dense and have greater turnover rate and more elastic than the cortical bones.

Actually osteoporosis is not painful itself and even known as a “silent disease”. It gradually or slowly develops without the person completely aware of it until one discovers susceptibility to bone fractures. The bones structures that are likely to get affected by osteoporosis include the spinal bones, hip bones and wrist.

DEXA Scans

To detect the progression of osteoporosis or identify osteoporosis, DEXA scans or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or bone densitometry, bone density scanning can be done or to measure the BMD or bone mineral density.

How Do You Get Osteoporosis?

Numbers of different risk factors are blamed for the development of osteoporosis like gender. Females are reportedly having higher chances of developing osteoporosis. During menopause the estrogen drops and this leads to rapid bone loss. Many other factors can contribute to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis can be prevented by taking calcium supplements to prevent the decalcification of bones. One also needs to balance magnesium intake as magnesium can decrease the absorption of calcium. Exercise can also help to facilitate absorption as well as improved blood circulation.

Osteoporosis is really a public health concern or threat and people aged 50 and over needs to watch out for symptoms of osteoporosis or think of ways to prevent osteoporosis by identifying risk factors and through healthy lifestyle. Even if you are still young, you need to think of how you can make your bones healthier for a longer time making them stronger and less prone to bone loss and bone fractures.

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis

What are the warnings signs and symptoms associated with osteoporosis? What is bone remodeling and how can you fight osteoporosis? It is important first to understand that there is somehow a never-ending bone project called bone remodeling going inside your bones, where the bones grows and resorbed fairly constantly.

Bone loss or resorption happens through the help of osteoclasts cells or the demolition cells that breaks down the bone cells. However, this happens at a safe and controlled level. Bone loss happens and it is to reshape the bones. The next important process is the bone growth or bone formation and ossification. As people start to age, bone formation and ossification gradually slows down while bone resorption can continue therefore the bone mass could also deteriorate making anyone at high risk for osteoporosis.

Since our bones are inside our bodies we cannot easily tell from the outside or by just feeling our bones if they are healthy and in good condition. Usually bones are hard but the bone structure from the inside may be brittle or the bone mass becomes lesser, so you may need to have a bone density scan in order to find it out.

The first obvious symptom of osteoporosis is low-energy fractures. Our bones are strong enough to handle everyday wear and tear as well as movement including bending, exercising, and carrying heavy loads without breaking easily. Though bones are strong they can also be broken should they be subjected to a massive energy or force. If you are doing daily activities only and you feel or hear your bones cracks or injured suddenly then you have osteoporosis. That means your bones are too brittle and thin that light movements can possibly injure your bones. This symptom means that you are having a serious developing osteoporosis.

Next symptom of the disease is unexplained bone and joint pains. Bone and joint pains are not always brought by osteoporosis but there are times that because of bone weakness pain are more frequent and even unexplainable. After checking out with your doctor and the doctor cannot easily find reasons for your bone pain, then the next thing to consider is the possibility of osteoporosis.

Lastly, one of the top symptoms of osteoporosis is height loss. It can result in condition like compression fractures of the spine. Curvature of the spine or stooping is the next obvious sign in your body. A person may suffer from obvious or quick height loss as the bones also tends to shrink. The back stoops, which is a sign of weakness of your bones to work as hold, support or frame for your body.

Osteoporosis Treatment and Medications

Nowadays, osteoporosis can be prevented with the help of several medications including drugs like Bisphosphonates including major drugs like Boniva, Fosamax and Actonel. It can help increase bone density so you can reduce risk of bone fractures. Calcitonin is another form of treatment. This is a hormone found in the thyroid gland which can help prevent bone resorption. Another drug is a selective-estrogen receptor modulator like Raloxifene which has estrogen-like effects helpful to avoid bone resorption. We also now have Calcitriol which is a prescription strength vitamin D. Teriparatide from human parathyroid hormone is also effective to stimulate bone growth. Lastly, Vitamin D and calcium supplements are the simplest yet effective means to manage and prevent osteoporosis.

Hopefully, this article helps you in some way 🙂

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