The metabolically active tissue continuously breaks down old bones and replaces it with new ones, hence remodeling itself. When the body fails to form new bones or when too much of old bone is being reabsorbed by the body or a combination of both these factors leads to osteoporosis. This crippling, painful disease is characterized by its low bone density that may not show any symptoms for years and may progress painlessly till a fall or strain that leads to fracture.
Age, low body weight and genetic factors are the leading causes of this silent bone disease. The drop in levels of estrogen after menopause, testosterone after a certain age in men is what leads to osteoporosis in the elderly. Whereas genetic factors such as bone strength (attained by men and women in their mid and early twenties respectively), determines the bone loss with age. Additional factors include: smoking, low intake of calcium, hormonal/ chronic liver intestinal disorders, excessive use of alcohol etc.
How to identify osteoporosis?
Usually the individual is unaware of the disease till a fracture or strain occurs but occasionally these symptoms can be noticed-
Pain in the abdomen, back, ribs, humpback, gradual loss of height along with stooped posture, fractures of wrist, spine, hip or ribs, if observed should be reported to the doctor immediately.
Bone density tests can help in detecting the disease before a fracture, determine the rate of bone loss/ monitor effect of the treatment and predict chances of fracture in the future. Early detection can help the doctor decide the best treatment for the patient’s bone health.
Eating a balanced nutritious diet can help patient maintain a normal weight which prevents osteoporosis and avoiding carbonated/ caffeinated drinks can help preserve the calcium in the body which is eliminated by them. Quitting smoking and reducing the consumption of alcohol can greatly help reduce the risk of this silent disease.
Including exercise especially weight bearing ones will help reduce bone mineral loss while strengthening the body and bones.
Replacing declining hormones helps increase bone density and slows down the loss of bone hence decreasing the risk of fractures. Many doctors administer progesterone or estrogen as it helps in increasing bone density by preventing bone loss. Bone health can be improved with testosterone therapy. Deficiency of thyroid hormone can lead to accumulation of old weaker bones and thyroid hormone is administered for normal remodeling of bones to take place.
Medication like Binosto, Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva help by inhibiting cells that break down bone.