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Osteoporosis

What is Osteoporosis?

It is a disease that affects the bones by thinning the bones and making them porous. This leads to an increased risk of bone fractures. Bones become weak and brittle; so weak that if a fall or mild stresses such as bending or coughing can cause extremely harmful fractures. Most fractures occur in the spine, hip, and wrist. Osteoporosis affects more women than men; and those with low bone density have the greater chances of developing osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis progresses without symptoms or pain, and when there are symptoms of osteoporosis, it is usually once the weakness sets in. That is why osteoporosis is frequently referred to as a silent thief. The symptoms that osteoporosis does have are:

  • Back Pain
  • Loss of height
  • Stoop posture or hump back
  • Fracture of vertebra, hip, wrist or other bone

What Causes Osteoporosis

The leading cause of bone deterioration is a drop in estrogen and testosterone in women and men. Osteoporosis happens when the body fails to form new bone or old bone is absorbed back into the body or both. For new bones to fail to form, there is a deficiency in calcium and phosphate; two minerals that are needed for bones to function normally. If the body does not get enough calcium from a person’s diet, then the bones production and bone tissue suffer as a result. When bones are reabsorbed back into the body, it usually occurs with age. This makes the tissue weaker; causing the bones to become brittle and fragile.

Other causes are having a vitamin D deficiency, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic kidney disease, eating disorders, absence of menstrual periods for long period of times, alcohol consumption, low body weight, and smoking, soft drinks, steroid usage, and heavy metals such as cadmium.

Diagnosis of Osteoporosis

The common method of diagnosis for osteoporosis is a bone density test. The most commonly used test is the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry test. This test measures the density of bones in those areas that are most likely to be affected by osteoporosis; the spine, hip, and wrist. Other tests that can be conducted are ultrasound, CT scanning, and single-photon absorptiometry.

Treatment of Osteoporosis

The main goals when treating osteoporosis is to control the pain the disease causes, to stop bone loss or slow it down as much as possible, to prevent fractures to occur and to strengthen bones. There are different medicines that can be used to combat bone loss these are:

  • Bisphosphonates—acts like estrogen inhabiting bone breakdown and can increase the bone density in the spine and hip.
  • Raloxifene—classed as a selective estrogen receptor modulator, acts like estrogen in postmenopausal women.
  • Calcitonin—is a hormone that reduces bone absorption thus slowly bones loss. Calcitonin is produced in the thyroid gland.
  • Hormone replacement therapy—this method is rarely used and is not used, if estrogen has helped a woman and there are no other options available to prevent osteoporosis then a doctor will use this method, However, if a woman has been diagnosed with osteoporosis already, then this method will not be used.
  • Parathyroid hormone—are used for postmenopausal women with a risk of fractures. This medicine is taken daily by shots underneath the skin.
  • Exercise is one form of treatment for its ability to strengthen bones thus reducing the chances of fractures in those with osteoporosis.
  • Diet—is another factor that can help with osteoporosis by making sure the body is receiving the proper amount of calcium needed. This is done by eating such foods as: cheese, ice cream, low fat milk, salmon, sardine, yogurt, tofu, and leafy green vegetables by making sure that the body has enough vitamin D since vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium B.

How to prevent and manage Osteoporosis

The ways to keep bones healthy and to prevent osteoporosis is by maintaining a good calcium and vitamin D level in the body, in addition to regular exercise. Alcohol use can greatly reduce bone formation and the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
If a person has osteoporosis, the best way to manage it is by doing the same things to prevent the disease. But every effort should be made to make sure to avoid falling that could cause a potential fracture on already weaken bones. Maintaining good posture can serve to help as it takes stress off the spine. If sitting or driving, a rolled towel or other cushion placed at the small of the back can serve to cushion the spine.

With daily activities such as reading, one should not lean over, putting stress and strain on the spine.

 

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001400/#adam_000360.disease.prevention
http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/what-is-osteoporosis-osteopenia
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis/DS00128/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies
http://www.nof.org/aboutosteoporosis