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Osteoporosis

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Osteoporosis

A single fall can fracture your bones! And this could be due to lack of calcium and vitamin D, something you can easily rectify with the right diet and exercise. Experiencing frequent fractures, back ache and bad posture are all symptoms of Osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is weakening of bones. The bone mass density (BMD) decreases, increasing the risk of fractures. The first-level of BMD loss is known as osteopenia which, if undetected and untreated, proceeds to osteoporosis. Although the term osteoporosis is synonymous with women above 50 years of age, it is now commonly seen in men as well and is known to strike at an alarmingly younger age. There is more to osteoporosis than just calcium deficiency. In women, oestrogen is important for BMD maintenance. Post-menopausal decrease in the level leads to accelerated BMD loss. Fast changing lifestyles, poor dietary habits and lack of exercise along with heredity are some of the contributing factors.

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Causes

The normal bone is made up of protein, collagen, and calcium. When the bones begin to lose their density and become unnaturally porous, they are more easily compressed – making them more likely to crack (e.g. hip fracture) or collapse (spinal fracture).

The loss of BMD occurs on a scale, and the first-level of BMD loss is known as osteopenia which, if undetected and untreated, proceeds to osteoporosis. Common areas at high risk for fractures are ribs and wrists.

Risk Factors

Also known as ‘brittle bones’, osteoporosis is now becoming a condition that strikes at an alarmingly young age. This phenomenon is closely linked to our present-day sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diets and stressed-out existence. Here is a quiz that will tell you if you are prone to the disease.

Gender and Race (women, Asian descent > risk)

Age and Genetics (50+, family history of osteoporosis > risk)


  • Physical inactivity

  • Calcium deficiency

  • Vitamin D deficiency

  • Smoking (5%-10% extra BMD loss)

  • Excess alcohol

  • Low weight

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Medications (e.g. heparin, prednisone)


Read about Are you at risk of suffering from osteoporosis?

Symptoms

Osteoporosis is termed ‘the silent killer,’ as it causes no specific symptoms in its early stage of bone loss. Usually, this clinical condition goes unnoticed until a person suffers from a fracture, but symptoms may appear in rare cases.

Back Pain: Back pain in osteoporosis is usually caused by fractures of the spine and is of very painful nature. This is because the fractured or collapsed vertebrae of the back pricks the nerves spreading out from the spinal cord in a radial manner.

Bone fracture: It is one of the most general symptoms of fragile bone caused by osteoporosis.

Stooped posture: In some cases, fractures of the spinal region caused by osteoporosis result in a stooped posture of the upper back, leading to loss of height. Here is a detailed information on 3 common symptoms of osteoporosis you should know about.

Diagnosis

A DEXA scan is the standard test to diagnose osteoporosis, and if it detects the condition, one should immediately visit a doctor.

Treatment

The patient is treated for the fracture and given appropriate medical care for the underlying reason. People who suffer from a fracture due to osteoporosis usually have a long road to recovery. Even after the fracture has healed, it takes a long while to rehabilitate that area and make the bones strong enough to support their weight and the stress of everyday activities.

Available medications aim to stop bone loss and increase bone strength. The use of hormone (estrogen) replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause was popular until recent times when its benefits have been questioned.

There are 2 surgical options that can reduce pain caused by spinal compression – vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. These surgeries use 'bone cement' that is injected into the damaged spinal bones (vertebrae) to make them denser and stronger.

Prevention

Here are a few guidelines on how to naturally prevent osteoporosis.


  1. Get enough exercise

  2. Stock up on natural sources of calcium

  3. Soak up the sun for Vitamin D

  4. Keep up your Vitamin K

  5. Beat obesity

  6. Go for plant estrogens

  7. Watch out for those calcium smugglers

  8. Quit smoking and alcohol

  9. Beat stress for your bones’ sake

  10. Try oil massages

  11. Include sesame in your diet

  12. Regular health check-ups could be your savior


Here is the detailed information on natural remedies to prevent osteoporosis

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