What is the Definition of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes weak and brittle bones, as it reduces bone mass and changes their structure or strength. This condition may even weaken bones to the extent that even minor stressors such as a cough or bumping into an object can cause fractures. Adding on, osteoporosis often progresses silently without any symptoms, with individuals being unaware of their worsening bone health until a fracture occurs.
What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Fractured or collapsed vertebrae can cause chronic back pain, which may be severe and disabling, adding to the challenges faced by those with brittle bones.
As the vertebrae in the spine weaken and collapse, individuals may experience a gradual loss of height and a stooped posture, a condition that is also known as kyphosis. This is a characteristic of brittle bones.
Osteoporotic fractures most commonly occur in the hip, spine, and wrist. These fractures can result from minor falls or even routine activities, further emphasizing the vulnerability of weak and brittle bones.
Loss of Height
As the vertebrae in the spine weaken and collapse, individuals may experience a gradual loss of height and a stooped posture, a condition also known as kyphosis. This is a characteristic of brittle bones.
What are the Causes of Osteoporosis?
The most common cause of Osteoporosis is ageing, as our bone density begins to decrease from the approximate age of 30, and continues to do so as the years pass by. There are also a variety of other causes of this condition such as:
As the levels of oestrogen decrease, bone density will begin to lower too. Therefore, after menopause, the rate of bone loss accelerates, making this period particularly vulnerable. On average, women can lose up to 10% of their bone mass in the first five years after menopause. Beyond the immediate postmenopausal years, the rate of bone loss generally slows down, but the risk of osteoporosis remains.
Individuals who have previously experienced fractures, especially fragility fractures, which are fractures that occur from minor trauma or falls, are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. These often indicate weak as well as brittle bones and an increased susceptibility to future fractures.
Long-term use of specific medications can lead to bone loss and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Notable examples include corticosteroids, which can negatively impact bone density and quality. Other medications, such as some anticonvulsants and certain cancer treatments, may also contribute to weak bones.
What are the Risk Factors of Osteoporosis?
Low Body Weight
Having a low body weight or a low Body Mass Index (BMI) can elevate your risk of osteoporosis. You can prevent this by avoiding diets that promote themselves as ultra-low calorie or exclude entire food groups, as a balanced and healthy diet is crucial in preventing brittle bones.
A family history of osteoporosis or fractures can increase your risk because genetics play a role in determining bone density and structure. If close relatives have experienced osteoporosis or fractures, it's important to be proactive about bone health and speak with a health practitioner to schedule regular medical checkups.
Lack of regular weight-bearing exercises and physical activity can weaken bones. You don’t have to engage in strenuous activities, as exercises such as walking, jogging, and weightlifting can stimulate bone remodelling and strengthen bones. Just like our muscles, bones can strengthen with constant training as well as weaken with disuse.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Heavy alcohol consumption can negatively impact bone health by interfering with calcium and Vitamin D absorption, impairing bone formation. It can also decrease estrogen and may lead to irregular periods, along with bone loss. Further worsening the problem, having too much alcohol also kills bone-making cells named osteoblasts.
Are You or Your Loved Ones At Risk of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that can easily go undetected, and early detection can improve treatment outcomes. Whether you or your loved ones are facing this condition, feel free to book an appointment with us at Avant Orthopaedics, and we will provide you with a personalized consultation.