What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition that is caused by a weakening of bones. The bones themselves become brittle and more susceptible to fractures. The word Osteoporosis means ‘porous bone.’ A healthy bone, when viewed under a microscope, reveals small holes arranged in a way that resembles a honey comb.

In Osteoporotic bones, these holes are much larger. These bones have less density and mass, causing them to be weaker.

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs as a result of the osteoblasts, the cells that are the ‘building-blocks’ of bones, failing to generate new bone at a faster rate than older bone is breaking broken down.

In your 20s, this process is on the rise and tends to peak around the age of 30. After around 30 to 35 years-old, the dynamic shifts and bone loss outpaces new bone growth.

The rate of Osteoporosis breaking down bones can be slowed depending on if you were quite active as a youth and have a much higher mass of bone at the time of your body’s ‘peak’ bone building in your early 30s. This is affected by engaging in weight-bearing activities which facilitates bone growth. Also, ethnic background can play a role in developing Osteoporosis. Some causes and risk factors of Osteoporosis may be modifiable and some are not. These may be one or all of the following:

● Gender: women are more greatly affected by Osteoporosis than men
● Ethnicity: Caucasian and Asian backgrounds are more at risk of developing this condition
● Genetics
● Previous fracture
● Long-term steroid therapy
● Body frame size: Osteoporosis tends to affects individuals with a smaller body frame
● Low sex hormones or thyroid irregularities
● Smoking
● Obesity
● Excessive alcohol use
● Poor nutrition
● Lack of weight bearing exercise
● Other systemic condition that can lead to bone loss such as cancer, Rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or lupus

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What are Signs of Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis will usually begin to show its symptoms in older age, but the disease may have been progressing for years without symptoms. Osteoporosis generally affects the bones of the spinal column, hips, and wrists. Some symptoms that you must be aware of are:

● Breaks in bones, particularly in the back, wrists, or hips.
● An exaggerated kyphotic (convex) curve is the upper back, sometimes referred to as a Dowager’s Hump
● A decrease in height
● Leg length discrepancy
● Repeated fractures, bones that break easily – in very advanced cases even a cough or sneeze can lead to a broken bone

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Treatments for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a highly treatable condition. Treatment for Osteoporosis depends on an accurate diagnosis and thorough examination in order to determine the severity of your condition which will better guide to doctor as to the proper treatments.

Treatments may be as simple nutritional advice and the use of supplements to medications. The interventions that may be considered with a diagnosis of Osteoporosis are:

● Leading a healthy lifestyle, with an adequate amount of weight-bearing exercise, proper nutrition, and ● Vitamin D supplements
● Medications: generally, a call of drugs called Bisphosphonates (this is the class of drug that the commonly-● know medication Flomax is a part of)
● Bone-building medications
● Another class of drugs called Monoclonal Antibody Medications
● Hormone therapy
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