Osteoporosis is diagnosed in around 10 million Americans, while an additional 44 million Americans have low bone density. When osteoporosis develops, the structure inside of bones becomes porous or thin, causing the bones to weaken and fracture or break easily. The bones looks like mesh when viewed under a microscope. The spaces between this mesh are noticeably larger than normal when osteoporosis is present. The bone structure may become thin if either too much bone tissue has been lost or not enough bone tissue has been made.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass. The natural aging process plays a factor in the thinning of the bone structure; however, this is not the only cause of osteoporosis. More factors that increase the risks of osteoporosis include, but are not limited to:
Race – If you are white or Asian, you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis as you age.
Gender – Women are more likely than men to suffer from osteoporosis. One out of two women develop osteoporosis. Meanwhile, only one out of four men does.
Family history – Genetics does play a factor in osteoporosis. If someone in your family has had osteoporosis or a hip fracture, you are at greater risk yourself.
Lifestyle – An inactive lifestyle increases the odds of both developing osteoporosis and experiencing a bone fracture.
Diet – A diet low in calcium and vitamin D is bad for your bone’s health.
Frame size – The smaller your frame, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
Certain medical conditions – Having type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or gastrointestinal disease increase your odds of osteoporosis.
Sex hormones – A reduction of hormones can impact bone health. In women, estrogen loss occurs primarily during and after menopause. In men, testosterone loss occurs gradually over time.
Smoking – Recent studies have shown a relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. In addition, many studies on the effects of smoking suggest that smoking increases the risk of experiencing a fracture.
Osteoporosis cannot be cured. However, it can treated.The first step towards getting treatment is recognizing the symptoms. There are typically no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. Back in the day, patients often didn’t get a diagnosis until after they suffered a serious bone fracture. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Once your bones deteriorate to the point that you experience symptoms, you may notice the following signs including:
- Back pain
- Loss of height over time since the bones of the spine are the first affected by this disease
- Stooped or bad posture
- Bone fractures
If you are experiences any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately and request a bone density test. Your bone density can also be measured a number of different ways.
There are steps that can be taken to prevent osteoporosis and, in some cases, slow its progression. Bone density can even be improved to some degree. Each case is different. The treatments listed here are options but, if you suffer from osteoporosis, you need a doctor to assess your individual condition prior to determining which option you want to pursue.
Osteoporosis treatments include, but are not limited to:
Osteoporosis medications aim to put a brake on the bone deterioration process. These drugs are used to maintain bone density and decrease the risk of breaking a bone as a result of osteoporosis. The goal of most osteoporosis medicines is the same, but each of them work in different ways.
When using medicine to treat osteoporosis, women have a few extra factors to consider. If you have gone through menopause, your age can impact which medication is most effective. Osteoporosis medication is not typically recommended for premenopausal women. In rare cases, medication may be appropriate if their low bone density has caused a broken bone or if they suffer from a rare medical condition.
Physical therapy is recommended to improve the strength of the bones to prevent falls and easily broken bones. When used as a preventative measure, you may learn how to carry out your day-to-day activities safely in physical therapy. With the presence of weakened bones, daily activities such as getting out of bed may become challenging. A fall could cause a fractured bone or even worse, which makes building strength and balance incredibly important. If you need help recovering after a surgery or trauma, physical therapy can help you heal properly.
Since osteoporosis is so commonplace, it is important for you to recognize the risks and symptoms early on. Bone fractures can be prevented and osteoporosis can be minimized with the right course of medical treatments. Doctors should be involved in the process. The South Texas Spinal Clinic is a great source of guidance for osteoporosis treatment in San Antonio. We can be reached at (210) 614-6432.