Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to weaken and become brittle, making them much more fragile and easy to break. Because of this, falls or even mild stresses such as bumping a wall or bending over can cause a bone to fracture. This condition develops slowly, over the course of years, and it is typically only noticed and properly diagnosed after a fall or a traumatic impact causes a breakage. In fact, it is typically painless until a break occurs. Sometimes, though, osteoporosis can cause one's posture to bend forward and stoop, making it difficult for the body to support its own weight. There are several common injuries that occur as a result of osteoporosis are hips, broken wrists, and spinal vertebrae, though breaks can certainly happen in other larger, thicker bones, such as the arm and the pelvis. These breaks often lead to long-term pain.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Our bones are constantly in a state of renewal, with new bone being created and old bone breaking down. Losing old and feeble bone is a normal part of aging, and all people will experience reduced density and an increased risk of breakage as they grow older. However, some people, like those with osteoporosis, lose bone much faster than normal.
Osteoporosis can affect men, women, and children, though the causes, risk factors, and rates differ. Women, for instance, lose bone rapidly during the first years after menopause. They are far more likely than men to develop this condition, particularly if they have had their ovaries removed.
There are many other factors, though, that can cause or at least increase one's risk of developing the condition. These include:
- Taking some high dose medications for an extended period
- Having another inflammatory or hormone-related condition
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Having an eating disorder such as bulimia
- Lack of regular exercise
- Low body mass index
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Not consuming enough calcium
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Typically, there are no symptoms that present in the early stages of osteoporosis and bone loss. The only way of knowing is to have tests and scans that can measure density. Once the bones have been weakened, though, or after a trauma or accident, there are several tell-tale signs that should get you scheduling an appointment with a doctor. Back pain is one of the most common signs, especially if stooping and bending forward has become visible. The vertebrae are especially vulnerable to weakness, fracture, and breakage when this condition is present, and they may begin to collapse under the weight of the body. This further contributes to another common symptom, which is the loss of height over time due to stooping. The final and most obvious sign of bone weakening and loss is when a breakage occurs more easily than expected.
Treatment of Osteoporosis
As a condition of the bones, osteoporosis is treated with bone strengthening medicines. These medicines work to prevent the breaking of bones and treat ones that have already weakened and broke. Medications can strengthen the bones and provide overall better structure support for the body. Taking vitamin D and calcium is another crucial way to strengthen the bones and properly care for the body, as they are crucial for healthy bone density.
The decision to undergo professional treatment will depend on factors such as age, sex, and progression of the condition. Hormone-related therapy, particularly with estrogen after menopause, can also help to maintain bone density. For patients who cannot tolerate or do not respond to those more common treatments, bone-building medications do exist as a treatment, as well.
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