When people age – particularly women – there often comes a loss of height and weight, and the development of stooped posture. A bone-thinning disease called osteoporosis often causes these body changes. This disease is characterized by loss of bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, which leads to bone fragility and increased susceptibility to fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist. In fact, spinal fractures are the most common type of osteoporotic fractures that exist. Forty percent of all women will have at least one by the time they are 80 years old. These vertebral fractures can permanently alter the shape and strength of the spine.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Several causes and types of osteoporosis will be explained in this section. The first is primary osteoporosis, which has two types – (I) and (II). Type I is an excessive loss of the spongy tissue of the bone (cancellous bone), with some sparing of outer bone. This type of osteoporosis is six times more common in women than men, and the onset usually occurs in the 15-20 years following menopause. The loss of bone is thought to be linked to an estrogen deficiency in women and a testosterone deficiency in men – both of which are due to aging. In this type of osteoporosis, vertebral spine fractures are the most common result.
Perhaps the most common symptom of osteoporosis is a vertebral compression fracture or hip fracture. The compression fractures in the spine, caused by weakened vertebrae can lead to pain in your mid-back area. The fractures often stabilize on their own and the pain goes away, but sometimes the pain persists because the crushed bone continues to move around and break.
If you have symptoms of osteoporosis, you should consult with your doctor. Additionally, older women should discuss their risks of osteoporosis with a health care provider, even if they are not currently exhibiting any signs of the disorder. All women should be aware of the many preventative steps to take to decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis.
To diagnosis osteoporosis, your physician can do several things. Diagnosis will begin with a physical examination that measures height, weight, and middle fingertip-to-middle fingertip arm span. This gives a rough estimate of what your original height might have been in young adult life. Vertebral tenderness will also be checked.
Treatment Options and Prevention
The most fundamental suggestion is to increase your calcium intake, either through dietary changes or supplemental pills. It is best for people to begin adequate calcium intake at an early age, as bone mass begins to decrease around the age of 30. After age 30, calcium helps decrease bone loss, strengthen bones, and decrease the risk of fractures…
A vitamin D deficiency may contribute to bone loss and fracture, and at least 800 mg per day is recommended for all adults. Many calcium supplements contain vitamin D…
Exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes helps reduce bone loss. The best exercises for maintaining bone mass are weight-bearing exercises. This includes walking…
Currently, four medications have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone/estrogen replacement therapy is used for both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. HRT can reduce bone loss, increase bone density in the spine and hip, and reduce the risk of hip and spinal fractures in postmenopausal women…
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