Think osteoporosis only affects older women? You would be wrong. While the disease does affect women primarily, men are also susceptible.
Let’s first understand osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is Latin for “porous bone.” In healthy bones, there are small sponge-like spaces; osteoporosis causes the size of these spaces to increase, making the bones weak, delicate, and brittle. Over time, the bones lose strength resulting in fall risk.
1. Who is susceptible?
Globally, 200 million people have osteoporosis, with more than 54 million Americans. These people are at high risk of fractures and breaks even while doing simple activities like walking. It is not uncommon for people with osteoporosis to experience a fracture or breakage in the hips or wrists. While the disease is more common in women, men are also at risk. Over the age of 50, one in two women and one in four men, will be stricken.
2. What causes osteoporosis?
Sadly, as with other diseases like arthritis, age is a factor. Bone material breaks down over time and generates new bone growth. However, the regrowth does not keep up with the aging process, thus the loss of bone.
One of the reasons women are more disposed of is due to menopause. As hormones change, bone loss may advance more quickly.
Genetics, ethnicity, and weight play an important role in risk factors. If a parent has bone loss, you have a higher likelihood of risk. While anyone can be at risk, Asian and Caucasian women have a higher risk factor. Thin, tiny women also are at higher risk due to less bone structure than heavier people.
Some medical conditions or medications may be a risk factor as well. Some of those may include bariatric surgery, overactive thyroid, celiac disease, and hormone treatment for breast cancer.
You can control some things to slow the process of bone loss. If you smoke, please stop. Smoking increases fracture risk. Limit your alcohol intake. Get the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D. Finally, get up and move. We often hear “move it or lose it.” An inactive lifestyle can lead to conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.
3. What are some symptoms of osteoporosis?
Ironically, it is a silent disease without symptoms; however, there are some things you may want to monitor. These may include posture changes by bending forward from the neck. Height loss is a factor as well. Pain in the lower back may be a symptom to check out. Disc compression from the disease may cause shortness of breath. Receding gums or weakened, brittle nails may be an indicator.
Unfortunately, just as with arthritis, there is no cure for osteoporosis. The good news is that you can do a few things to slow the process or prevent fractures.
- Maintain the proper intake of calcium and vitamin D.
- Eat a healthy diet; dairy, salmon, and green veggies are good choices.
- Embrace an active lifestyle that includes walking, weight lifting, or cycling.
- Don’t use tobacco. Limit alcohol intake.
- Keep your dental health in check with regular appointments, including checking gums for recession.
- Check your home for things that may cause falls: loose rugs, slippery floors, clutter, and poor lighting.
- Invest in footwear that fits properly and provides support.
- Get a screening for bone density from your physician.
Fortunately, there is help for this condition. At Bradenton Pain and Wellness Center, we are trained in diagnosing and treating osteoporosis to help you navigate the intricacies of this disease.
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