What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them porous and fragile, where even mild falls or stresses can cause them to break. It is a common condition affecting around three million people in the UK.
Bone, a living tissue, is constantly being broken down and replaced, however with osteoporosis the creation of new bone is no longer able to keep up with the removal of old bone. Fractures of the wrist, hip and vertebrae are the most common type of breaks for people affected.
Usually it comes with no warning, developing slowly over years. Treatment options include supplements to strengthen the bones and prevent future fractures.
Typically osteoporosis doesn’t cause any symptoms in the early stages. It develops slowly over years, once the bones become porous and weak, it results in a stress fracture, giving first signs of osteoporosis.
Symptoms in more advanced stages include;
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time
- A stooped posture when the spine is unable to support the weight of the body.
- Bone fractures that occur with even mild stress
Bones are constantly being renewed and replaced, reaching peak bone mass by early 20s, when they are thickest and strongest. Density is gradually lost beginning in the mid 30s. However some people develop osteoporosis and lose bone density much faster than is normal, causing bones to become fragile.
Women are more at risk to develop osteoporosis due to the hormonal changes that occur during menopause. Oestrogen is essential to maintain healthy bones, after menopause the levels drop causing rapid decrease in bone density. Similarly, absent periods and hysterectomy result in the loss of bone density.
The cause for osteoporosis in men is unknown. Their risk is increased with lower levels of testosterone as a man ages. Additionally, the use of certain medications, alcohol misuse and hypogonadism causing low often result in the development of osteoporosis.
There are certain risk factors associated with osteoporosis, that may increase your risk significantly.
Hormone affect the process of bone turnover, therefore conditions affecting hormone-producing glands pose a high risk, such as hyperthyroidism, adrenal gland disorders, reduced sex hormones and pituitary gland disorders.
Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at a great risk for the same.
People with small body frames and a BMI of 19 or less, tend to have a higher risk as they have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
Habits such as the lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use can contribute to the development of osteoporosis.
People of white, Caucasian or Asian race are at the greatest risk
Certain medication such as corticosteroids interfere with the bone-rebuilding process.
People with eating disorders and low calcium intake and prone to the loss of bone mass.
Osteoporosis can be diagnosed assessing its symptoms and pattern of fractures caused.
Further, your bone density can be measured with a bone mineral density scan (DEX) to determine the proportion of minerals in your bones and comparing it to that of a healthy young adult of the same age and sex. It is a quick, safe and easy process
Treatment for osteoporosis is based on the estimated risk of a fracture in the next 10 years. It involves treating and preventing fractures and strengthening bones.
We can prescribe a range of treatment options based on the severity of your condition.
It works by slowing down the rate at which bone is broken down in your body. It maintains bone density and reduces the risk of fracture. It usually takes six to twelve months to reflect any changes, and it prescribed for several years.
This includes Alendronic acid.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements
Calcium is the major mineral found in bones, having enough is important for maintaining healthy bones. The daily recommended amount should be found in your diet, however for those with this condition, supplementation is often required.
This includes Calceos.