Osteoporosis is a condition affecting the bones, weakening them and making them more fragile. The condition develops over the course of years, and it is typically only discovered and diagnosed after a fall or other traumatic impact causes the bone to fracture or break. People with osteoporosis are at a much higher risk of fracturing a bone. The wrists, hips, pelvis, and spinal vertebrae are the most commonly injured bones in people with the condition, and it is much more common among the aging and elderly. Osteoporosis on its own is not known to be a painful, but the fractures and injuries that can occur as a result of it can cause chronic pain. There are a variety of causes and symptoms of osteoporosis, and aging adults should particularly be aware of the risk factors and symptoms.
People with osteoporosis are susceptible to easier bone fractures. The increased fragility of the skeleton leaves the bones weaker and more susceptible to being injured, even from minor events like slipping or bumping a wall. Though shrinking is common among the elderly, loss of height is another common sign of osteoporosis. As the bone deteriorates, particularly with those in the spine, an afflicted person can become shorter and shorter. Those who endure a compression fracture in the spine are at the most risk of losing some of their height and, as such, height loss can be indicative of a spinal injury. Osteoporosis also causes a stooped posture, as it is more difficult for the spine and back to support the weight of the body and hold it upright. Even if a patient with osteoporosis has not begun to hunch over and exhibit poor posture, they are still more susceptible to back pain. This can be both acute and piercing or chronic and prolonged. When the bone structure does not have the strength to support the weight of the body, the task falls on the muscles of the core and shoulders. A weakened hand grip is also a common symptom, particularly in women.
Osteoporosis can arise for a variety of reasons. Hormones tend to play a major role in its development in both men and women. Females who have an estrogen deficiency are much more likely to develop the condition, as estrogen plays a huge role in preserving and strengthening bones. Men also need proper levels of estrogen in order to regulate bone density. The male body converts hormones into estrogen in order to accomplish this. Other hormones also play a crucial role in maintaining bone health. They assist the bones in utilizing calcium, as well as signaling the break-down of old bone and building up of new. Calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus are critical for bone density and strength, and having a deficiency of one or both of them is most common causes of osteoporosis. Because all of the organs in the body require these vitamins and minerals, they can often steal the reserves that are housed in the bones, causing this reservoir to deplete. Several thyroid conditions as well as a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.
The main goal of treatments for osteoporosis is to prevent fractures. As such, medications and supplements are typically prescribed to strengthen the bones. The condition is first diagnosed after a bone mineral density scan, such as a DEXA or DXA. After assessing the density and health of the bones, a physician will make a decision on a course of action. The treatment recommended will also depend on the patient's age, sex, and history of injury. Bisphosphonates are often utilized to slow down the rate at which your body breaks down old bones. This allows bone density to be maintained and decreases one's risk of fracture and injury. Hormone replacement therapy may also be recommended for those whose osteoporosis can be attributed to low levels of estrogen and other hormonal deficiencies. Though this does not directly treat the condition, it does address the underlying causes of osteoporosis. For those who do not wish to take powerful medications or undergo replacement therapy, supplements are an easy, at-home way to boost the levels of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D in the body. In addition to supplements, maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle are an easy modification that contributes to overall health.
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