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What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is often called a "silent disease" because there are usually no symptoms until bones start to fracture. By the time someone is diagnosed with osteoporosis, they may have already lost a significant amount of bone mass.

What is osteoporosis, and what are the symptoms?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become thin and fragile. The bones may break (fracture) more easily than usual. Osteoporosis can occur in any bone, but it is most common in the hip, spine (vertebrae), and wrist.

There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis. As the condition worsens, bones may fracture more easily. A broken bone can cause pain, disability, or in extreme circumstances even death.

You might feel back pain if osteoporosis has caused a vertebral fracture. You might also feel pain in the hip or wrist if those bones have fractured. Also, losing weight, feeling tired, and having weaker muscles can also be signs of osteoporosis.

Who is at risk of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a very common disease. About 75 million people In Europe, Japan, and the USA alone have osteoporosis or low bone mass.

Osteoporosis is common in older adults, but it can affect people of any age. It is more common in women than men and in people who are thin or have a family history of osteoporosis. People with certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis, are also at risk.

It is estimated that 1 out of two women and 1 out of four men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

What are the causes of osteoporosis?

Many things can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. These include:

  • Aging: As you get older, your bones may become thinner and weaker.

  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.

  • Family history: You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if you have a family member with the condition.

  • Being small and thin: Small and thin people have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

  • Certain medical conditions: Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease can increase your risk of osteoporosis.

  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as steroids and certain anticonvulsants, can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.

  • Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.

  • Excessive alcohol use: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.

How can you prevent osteoporosis from happening in the first place?

If you are at risk for osteoporosis, you can do a few things to prevent the condition from developing. These include:

  1. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D are essential for strong bones. You should get at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day and 600 IU of vitamin D per day.

  2. Eating a healthy diet: Eating a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help lower your risk of developing osteoporosis.

  3. Exercising: Getting regular exercise can help to increase bone density.

  4. Quitting smoking: If you smoke cigarettes, quitting can help lower the risk.

  5. Limiting alcohol use: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

Osteoporosis is often diagnosed after a bone fracture, but it is better to have screening tests if you have risk factors to prevent a fracture. The diagnosing methods are painless.

  • Bone mineral density (BMD) test: This test measures the density of minerals in your bones. A BMD test is the most accurate way to diagnose osteoporosis.

  • DEXA scan: This test uses x-rays to measure the density of your bones. A DEXA scan is a type of BMD test.

  • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to measure the thickness of your bones.

If you are experiencing back pain and suspect osteoporosis, it is crucial to see a spine doctor. A spine doctor can help diagnose the cause of your back pain and recommend treatment options.

What are some treatments for osteoporosis if it has already been diagnosed?

Even though there is no cure for osteoporosis, treatments are available to help reduce your risk of fractures and improve your overall health. These include:

  1. Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy can help reduce the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women.

  2. Bisphosphonates, Calcitonin, Forteo, and Denosumab: These are types of medication that can help reduce the risk of fractures.

  3. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs): These are a type of medication that can help reduce the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women.

  4. Dietary supplements: Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements can help treat osteoporosis.

  5. Physical therapy: Physical therapy is a standard treatment for osteoporosis and can help to increase your body's bone density.

Learn more about osteoporosis with Pinnacle Orthopaedics

If you have osteoporosis, there are treatments available to help improve your condition. At Pinnacle Orthopaedics, we utilize state-of-the-art technology and the latest surgical techniques to provide our patients with the highest quality orthopedic care.

Our Fellowship Trained orthopedic specialists perform non-surgical and surgical procedures. To find out the best course of treatment for your orthopedic needs, including osteoporosis, you can visit us at any following convenient location.

For more information, you can visit our clinics, request an appointment online, or call us directly at 770-427-5717.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.