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What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, often called "the silent disease", is a bone disease characterised by a decrease in bone mass and density resulting in brittle, fragile bones that are more susceptible to fractures, even without injury. The condition most commonly develops in elderly women.

Causes and risk factors for Osteoporosis

The exact cause of osteoporosis is not known, however, the factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis include:

  • Women are at a greater risk than men
  • Poor nutrition
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Lack of exercise
  • Asian people
  • People with a thin and small body frame
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Medical conditions, including hyperthyroidism, Cushing's syndrome and hyperparathyroidism
  • Some medications such as corticosteroids, endometriosis medications, thyroid replacement medications, and antacids containing aluminium may contribute to bone thinning.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis usually causes no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Later as the condition progresses it may cause the following symptoms:

  • Low back pain and neck pain due to fractures of the spinal bones
  • Dull pain in the bones accompanied by tenderness
  • Loss of the height of the spine giving a stooped posture (dowager hump)
  • Fractures from minimal trauma or no trauma at all

Diagnosis of Osteoporosis

Your doctor will make the diagnosis of osteoporosis based on the medical history, physical examination, and a bone density test. Bone mineral density test is a painless, non-invasive and safe method of measuring bone density that employs dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).

In some cases, your doctor may order spine or hip x-rays for determining vertebral collapses or fractures.

Treatment of Osteoporosis

The goal of treatment is to control pain and to prevent bone fractures by reducing bone loss. There are different treatment options for osteoporosis including:

Diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D

Exercise: Regular exercises can decrease the risk of developing bone fractures in people with osteoporosis. Your doctor may recommend exercises such as weight -bearing exercises, riding stationary bicycles, using rowing machines, walking, and jogging.

Medications: Certain medications are available that are used to strengthen bones and to stop bone loss.

Prevention for Osteoporosis

The tips for preventing osteoporosis may include:

  • Consuming a healthy balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Quit smoking and avoid excessive alcohol intake
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take medications to prevent osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which your bones become thin, weak, and are more susceptible to fractures, even without injury.