What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones grow more fragile and porous over time, making them more likely to break. Often known as the “silent disease,” osteoporosis is painless, and many do not even know they have it until they suffer a broken bone after a minor injury. Sometimes even when they begin to lose height. However, the only symptom is a dull pain that is felt, in the hips, lower back, neck, and wrists.
Generally, our bones reach a peak bone density at 25 to 30 years of age. Shortly afterward, we begin to lose bone density. Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a significant amount of bone density has been depleted.
Certain people are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis than others. Risk factors include: *
- Being female
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Thin or small frame
- Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies
- Diet low in calcium
- Inactive lifestyle
- Caucasian or Asian ethnicity
- Certain medications like corticosteroids or anticonvulsants
- Low estrogen levels in women
- Low testosterone levels in men
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Cigarette smoking
* http://www.nof.org/osteoporosis/diseasefacts.htm – February 2006
Common Injuries that Can Occur
Injuries are common when living with osteoporosis. And they are common because when living with this disease, your bones become brittle. Making them more prone to break easily, with little or no effort at all.
Spinal Fractures. The small bones in your spine are very susceptible to break when living with this disease. In fact, it does not take an injury for these bones to break. And you may not even feel any pain when it occurs!
Also, see Osteoporosis of The Spine.
Hip Fractures. Hip fractures are also typical with someone living with osteoporosis. Falls occur more often after the age of 65, and this condition happens as we age. Therefore, hip fractures are common. And once you have fractured your hip, it is more likely to occur again.
Wrist Fractures. As mentioned above, fractures occur quite often when we are older, since we are at a higher risk for a fall. And when we fall, most people stretch their hands out as if to catch themselves. Making a wrist fracture very common when living with this disease.
Testing for Osteoporosis
Treatment for osteoporosis involves preventing further bone weakening, building bone density, preventing bone fractures, and managing any pain you have. But first, you must be diagnosed. A simple, painless screening called a bone mineral density (BMD) test is used to
- Identify osteoporosis before a fracture occurs
- Predict your chances of fracturing in the future
- Determine your rate of bone loss
- Monitor the effects of any treatment
In a BMD test, you simply lie on a padded table beneath a scanning device. The technician uses a small amount of radiation, or sound waves, to collect information about your bone mass. The results are then compared to standard values. And if you are identified as having signs of osteoporosis, then specific treatments can help slow bone loss and reduce your risk of fractures. Identifying osteoporosis early on is crucial. Plus, most private insurance carriers and Medicare now cover BMD testing for some individuals. BMD testing is safe, painless, and noninvasive; it is recommended that all women over age 65 be tested.
Treatment for osteoporosis involves preventing further bone weakening, building bone density, preventing bone fractures, and managing the pain associated with the disease. It is recommended that people of all ages engage in regular weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or jogging. Supplementing your diet with 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium and 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D. daily can also help to keep your bones become strong. In some cases, your doctor may discuss estrogen replacement or other medications that strengthen the bones by increasing the density and preventing further bone loss.
If you suspect that you have signs or symptoms of osteoporosis or have risk factors for osteoporosis, please see your doctor and call us at 1-888-409-8006 for further evaluation and treatment.