Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bone mass loss and tissue degeneration. Bone weakening increases the risk of bone fractures, particularly in the hip, spine, and wrist, and can affect people of all ages. 

When examined under a microscope, osteoporosis-affected bones have more holes and spaces between bone tissues than healthy bones, making them less dense and more susceptible to injuries such as fractures. 

Osteoporosis is prevalent in the U.S., with approximately 54 million adults aged 50 and up being diagnosed with low bone mass and density. Osteoporosis affects twice as many women as men, and the loss of bone integrity often goes unnoticed until a fracture occurs.

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Our bones are constantly regenerating themselves. During childhood, our bodies create new bone faster than it can be broken down, resulting in increased bone mass until it reaches its highest point in the late teens and early twenties. However, as we age, bone loss outpaces new bone tissue creation.

The likelihood of developing osteoporosis is partly determined by the amount of bone mass that you can accumulate during your youth. The greater one’s peak bone mass, the greater one’s bone reserve, and the lower one’s chances of developing osteoporosis.

Age, gender, race, lifestyle, body type, and medical history can all influence one’s risk of developing osteoporosis, specifically: 

  • Women are far more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.
  • Older people are at the highest risk.
  • People of white or Asian descent have a higher risk of contracting the disease.
  • A family history of osteoporosis carries a higher risk.
  • Adults with smaller body sizes are more likely to develop osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is referred to as the “silent thief.” In the early stages of osteoporosis, there are typically no visible signs. However, as the disease gradually depletes the bones, one may experience:

  • Back pain due to a fractured or collapsed vertebra
  • Height decreases gradually
  • A rounded posture
  • Unexpected bone fractures that occur relatively easily

Managing Osteoporosis

While there is no cure for osteoporosis, several methods exist for managing the condition and lowering the risk of fracture. These include:

  1. Calcium and Vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health. Calcium helps to build and maintain strong bones, whereas vitamin D aids calcium absorption. Supplements or a well-balanced diet are essential for obtaining adequate nutrients.
  2. Exercise: Regular exercise can help to improve bone density and strength. Bone health is predominantly enhanced through weight-bearing activities, including walking, jogging, and weightlifting.
  3. Medication: Various pharmaceutical interventions, such as calcitonin, hormone therapy, and bisphosphonates, are accessible for the management of osteoporosis. The risk of fractures can be decreased, and bone loss can be slowed with the aid of these drugs.
  4. Fall Prevention: Preventing falls is essential for people with osteoporosis. This may involve practicing balance exercises, wearing sturdy footwear, or utilizing assistive devices such as canes or walkers to eliminate trip hazards in the home.

Osteoporosis is a common condition that reduces bone density and strength, making bones more vulnerable to fractures. While there is no cure for osteoporosis, several methods exist for managing the condition and lowering the risk of fracture. If you have osteoporosis, you can improve your bone health by staying active, eating a balanced diet, exercising, taking medication, and preventing falls.

Struggling with Osteoporosis?

If you suspect you may have osteoporosis, speak to one of our providers about testing and treatment options. To schedule an appointment, call (856) 848-3880.

Frequently Asked Questions about Osteoporosis

A: Several factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis cannot be altered. These include being female, advancing age, having a family history of the condition, having previous bone fractures, having a more petite body frame, having specific ethnic backgrounds (mainly Asian, Latino, and Caucasian descent), and experiencing menopause, which leads to a drop in estrogen levels and affects bone density.

A: Yes, various health conditions can elevate your risk, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Celiac Disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, and others. Conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, chronic respiratory diseases, kidney or liver disease, and a history of certain cancers or organ transplants also contribute to the risk.

A: You can adopt several lifestyle changes to lower your risk, such as ensuring sufficient intake of Vitamin D and calcium, regular exercise, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and working with your physician to manage hormonal imbalances and understand the impacts of your medications on bone health.

A: Women are more susceptible due to generally having smaller, thinner bones and hormonal changes after menopause, which significantly decrease estrogen levels, impacting bone density.

A: Yes, some medications might negatively affect bone strength. It’s important to discuss the potential bone-related side effects of any medications you’re taking with your healthcare provider.

A: To prevent falls, use assistive walking devices if needed, wear non-slip shoes, ensure living spaces are free of hazards, and install safety features like grab bars and non-slip mats in your home.

A: A balanced diet is key, but supplements are often needed to ensure adequate intake of calcium and Vitamin D. Consult with your doctor for advice tailored to your health needs.

A: Sunlight exposure can help your body produce Vitamin D, but factors like skin color, geographic location, and age can affect this process. Supplements are often recommended to ensure adequate Vitamin D levels.

A: Weight-bearing and strength training exercises are particularly beneficial as they stimulate bone formation and improve balance and strength. However, choosing exercises that are safe for your condition is essential.

A: Osteoporosis often doesn’t show symptoms until a fracture occurs. However, signs like a progressive loss of height, sudden back pain, or fractures from minor incidents could indicate the presence of osteoporosis.

A: It’s recommended to have a baseline bone density scan at age 50 or earlier if you have risk factors. Regular monitoring can help in managing the condition effectively. To schedule an appointment, call (856) 848-3880.

A: Osteoporosis is typically diagnosed using a Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, which assesses bone mineral density.

A: While there is no cure for osteoporosis, proper nutrition, exercise, and medications can help manage the condition and improve bone health.

A: Managing osteoporosis, staying active, joining support groups, and seeking help for emotional challenges are essential. Remember that many people live fulfilling lives with osteoporosis.

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