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How to prevent Osteoperosis?

Osteoporosis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Feature Image

What is Osteoporosis?

Every part of our body is made of cells and tissues. The bone tissue, like all other tissues, keeps decaying and regenerating to keep our bones strong. The moment this process slows down, new bone tissues can’t keep up with the old decaying tissues, leading to the bones becoming fragile. This happens in the case of men and women, however, post-menopausal women are more susceptible to getting this than any other person. Osteoporosis is also linked to vitamin D deficiency, which also increases the fragility of our bones. 

This disease is a silent assassin. The condition progresses internally without any symptoms or pain, and the only time it surfaces is when the bones undergo a fracture. But it can be prevented with timely treatment and diagnosis. But before we reach treatment options let us understand the causes and symptoms of osteoporosis.

What are the symptoms of Osteoporosis? 

Osteoporosis arrives silently and leaves colossal damage behind. In the initial stage, there are no distinguishable symptoms of bone or tissue loss. But over time when the bones become fragile  the following symptoms start surfacing: 

  • Persistent back pain due to a fractured/collapsed vertebra bone
  • A gradual decrease in the height of the person
  • Stooped body posture
  • Bones break very easily with the slightest nudge

The symptoms are very basic, but the impact is deeply rooted as bone tissue takes time to repair in normal circumstances, with a reduced regeneration time, it takes twice the time to heal and repair, adding a greater burden on the patients.

What causes osteoporosis? 

The insides of a healthy bone resemble a sponge and are called trabecular bone. An outer hard shell of bone covers the inner spongy layer forming what is called the cortical bone. During osteoporosis, these sponge holes inside grow in number & size making the insides weak. These bones have a bigger role to support the body, protecting vital organs, and storing calcium and other minerals. When the body requires calcium, it breaks down the bone tissue and rebuilds it. Supplying the calcium needed for the body’s skeleton to stay strong.

To understand the causes behind osteoporosis we need to identify the people who are at a greater risk of developing the problem.

  • Women who go through early menopause are at the highest risk.
  • People who have consumed corticosteroids for several months are also at high risk.
  • An existing family history of fractures (eg: hip fracture) can increase the risk of others in the family carrying the risk congenitally.
  • Those in their old age are also susceptible to this due to slow-down cell regeneration.

Now that we know the high-risk groups that can get the disease, our focus will move to the root causes that lead to osteoporosis.

  • Lower bone mass: Those who have smaller body frames can get osteoporosis. Osteoporosis translates to porous bones. This means that while the bone looks healthy and strong from the outside, it may be decaying from the inside. As we have discussed earlier, the bone tissue is under constant renewal. Old bone decays and new bone tissue replaces it to keep the bones strong. When we are young, this cell regeneration is fast. Doctors suggest that a full-grown adult’s bone mass keeps growing and attains its peak at the age of 30 years. 

Gradually with time, level of activity and age this mass keeps decaying faster than it is regenerated. Your likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends on the bone mass attained by your body in its youth. So the higher mass the lower the decay when you age. 

  • Low sexual hormone Levels: Osteoporosis can develop due to hormonal imbalance also. Lowered sex hormones weaken bones. Lowered oestrogen levels in a woman on the brink of menopause are a strong risk factor for developing osteoporosis. Women in general have a higher tendency to bone decay than men. Hence they must pay special attention after the age of 30. 

Men undergoing prostate cancer treatment and women undergoing breast or gynae cancer treatments have reduced testosterone and oestrogen levels which are bound to accelerate bone mass loss drastically.

  • High thyroid hormone level: Those suffering from thyroid problems also undergo drastic bone loss. This is usually seen in cases of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism with excessive hormone medication. Apart from this overactive adrenal or parathyroid gland secretions also bring about osteoporosis. 
  • Dietary problems: Multiple dietary irregularities can also lead to osteoporosis. 

– Deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D will invite the disease. Lower calcium intake gives a diminished bone density, increased risk of fractures and early bone mass loss. 

– Anorexia or bulimia like eating disorders can also lead to this. Severely restricting food intake weakens the bones.

– Steroids, especially corticosteroids when consumed over a prolonged period will lead to weaker bones. 

– Bariatric or gastrointestinal surgery will reduce the size of your stomach leaving less surface area to absorb nutrients like calcium. This happens in rare cases since these corrective surgeries are done to rectify other gastro concerns.

  1. Pre-existing comorbidities: Those with some pre-existing medical problems also attract the risk of having osteoporosis. Patients with celiac disease, IBS, Kidney or liver dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and myeloma tend to develop fragile bones. 
  2. Other medical causes: Different medications may also lead to osteoporosis. These are mainly associated with problems like seizures, acid reflux, cancer medications, etc. 
  3. Poor lifestyle choices: Not all problems are due to bodily functions, some are man-made due to poor day-to-day choices. Such as:

– Sedentary lifestyle: Those who have to sit around all day gradually develop a lot of bone and vertebrae problems, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. More oxygen and circulation can prevent this. 

– Too much consumption of alcohol & tobacco consumption in any form will also make your bones porous. Anything more than 2 alcoholic drinks in a day is not desirable. 

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

Once you reach out to an orthopaedic, they will suggest the following tests based on the severity of your conditions and complaints. 

Bone Density Scan: Since the problem lies in the internal decay of bones, the first step towards diagnosis is by running a bone density test. This is a painless test where low-intensity x-rays determine the mineral content in your bone. This is the most comprehensive test for the full body.

CT scan: Another internal imaging test that will give the physician a clearer picture of what is happening inside. 

Bone Ultrasound: This is an imaging test done on specific bones in the body. This will help us understand exactly how deep the problem is. 

The results from these imaging tests will help the orthopaedic form an opinion about the patient’s current condition and suggest a treatment route.

How to prevent osteoporosis?

While most of our height and bone growth are attributed to genetics, we do not have much control over bone mass. However, we can make some necessary lifestyle adjustments to ensure our body steers clear of the disease.

  • Quit smoking. This is a major success factor in maintaining stronger bones as smoking is known to slow down cell regeneration.
  • Watch where you walk. Since the disease is internal, we do not know we are in trouble until we fall and break something. If you have a family history of fractures, wear strong-grip shoes to prevent falls and avoid drinking alcohol. 
  • Have a calcium and Vitamin D-rich diet. We need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day till the age of 50. So load up your diet with low-fat dairy, green leafy vegetables, omega-rich fish, soybean, and of course orange juice. 
  • Spend more time in the sun. Especially if you spend most of your time indoors. Early morning sun is rich in Vitamin D which helps absorb calcium faster in our bodies. 
  • Exercise. With different levels of intensity, aerobic exercises always help keep your bones strong. Improved circulation and weight management help keep your bones healthy longer and regular activity keeps them agile.

In conclusion, the older we get the more our bones decay. The best way out is a healthy and disciplined lifestyle in the long run. However, not all of us can do this which is why ailments like osteoporosis start dictating our life and lifestyle. There is a way out and relief is just one consultation away. Reach out to the best Orthopaedic Surgeons in Delhi NCR, who will not only compassionately treat your pain points but also ensure you get a better quality of life for as long as you live. To book an appointment, call +911244570112.

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