What is osteoporosis?



Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak due to decrease in the amount of mineral & bony material in a particular bone characterized by low bone mineral density (BMD). Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and more likely to break. Bones that are affected by osteoporosis can fracture with only a minor fall or injury that normally would not cause a bone fracture.



Who all are at risk of developing osteoporosis?



Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is common in older women. As much as 50% women and 25% men older than 50, will have a fracture due to osteoporosis.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include-

Getting older

Being small and thin

Having a family history of osteoporosis

Taking certain medicines like steroids and ant seizure drugs

Being a white or Asian woman

Hypogonadism (deficiency of estrogen or testosterone in females and males respectively)

Premature menopause in females

Thyroid hormone excess/Hyperthyroidism

Calcium deficiency & Vitamin D deficiency

Drinking large amount of alcohol

Heavy Smoking

Other systemic diseases like Malabsorption, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver disease etc.




What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?



Osteoporosis is typically a silent disease. You might not know you have it until you break a bone. Patients typically have fracture with little or no trauma as fall on ground. The most common fractures are spinal bones, hip bone and wrist in people with osteoporosis. Symptoms occurring late in the disease are bony pains, back pain or pain on compression of the bone. Loss of height may occur because of vertebral fractures over time leading to decrease in height of vertebra.



How is osteoporosis diagnosed?



A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to check your bone health. BMD test can measure bone density in various sites of the body, such as the hip, spine, and wrist. Most commonly it is done by through dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. These tests are quick (taking less than 15 minutes), painless, and noninvasive. A bone density test can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs and can predict your chances of having a fracture in the future. You should consult your doctor to know more about these tests.



How Can Osteoporosis Be Prevented?



To keep bones strong, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D by drinking milk or eating milk products and taking vitamin D supplements, exercise and do not smoke. Avoid excessive intake of alcohol.



How is osteoporosis treated?



Osteoporosis treatment includes both lifestyle changes and medications. Treatment programs focus on nutrition, exercise, and safety issues to prevent falls that may result in broken bones. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to slow or stop bone loss, increase bone density, and reduce fracture risk.