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Osteoporosis – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

One of the most widely used medical terms these days is osteoporosis. This complication is widespread, and in some cases, even young people are affected. Osteoporosis, as its name implies, means a decrease in bone density, which results in decreased bone strength, and under these conditions, the bone is exposed to damage and fracture.
It can occur on any bone in the body but is more common in the spine, pelvis, wrists, and ribs.
This article discusses osteoporosis, its symptoms and the factors that cause it in detail.



What Is The Bone Made Of?

To better understand osteoporosis, we must first know what the bone is made of. The bone texture is made up of two parts:

  • A three-dimensional network-like protein scaffold called a matrix
  • Calcium deposition on this protein scaffold in the form of hydroxyapatite molecules

Throughout life, the body’s bone texture is constantly absorbed by the corrosive cells it contains (called osteoclasts), and new bone is replaced by osteoblasts on it. In this way, the texture of all the body bones is constantly renewed.

In childhood and adolescence, construction is more than absorption, but in old age, it is absorbed more than bone is formed, but even in the most severe cases of ostéoporose, the body does not stop building new bone, and only its amount decreases. The highest bone density is around the age of twenty.


Causes and Risk Factors

Reasons that can increase the risk of osteoporosis include:

  • age increasing
  • Genetic factors
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Lack of adequate physical activity (exercise)
  • Deficiency of minerals such as calcium, protein and vitamin D.
  • Diseases such as hyperthyroidism, hypogonadism, rheumatoid arthritis, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, etc.
  • Taking some drugs such as corticosteroids, levothyroxine, furosemide, heparin, phenytoin, etc. for a long time

It should be noted that in improper diets, following which a person will be deficient in minerals, the body provides these deficiencies from bone texture, and this process, over time, leads to bone loss and consequently Ostéoporose.


Signs and Symptoms

Unlike many chronic diseases, osteoporosis is asymptomatic except in acute cases where a person has a fracture; for this reason, it is also called the silent disease.
Most fractures due to osteoporosis occur in the spine, radius, and pelvis, respectively.
Pelvic fractures are the most serious complication of it and, in some cases, can even lead to death.
Osteoporotic fractures are often caused by very common events in which healthy people will never fracture.
For example, vertebral fractures, many of which occur with a slight pressure such as lifting an object, sneezing and bending.
The most important symptom of osteoporosis is pain, which occurs when a bone breaks.
Of course, fractures due to ostéoporose are usually small, non-displacement, and mild fractures that occur without severe trauma to the limb.

Diagnosis of Osteoporosis

The test for osteoporosis is usually performed in postmenopausal women or cases where the underlying cause of osteoporosis has been identified.
The diagnosis of osteoporosis is usually made by a bone density test and is usually performed at an older age.
Bone mineral density measurements are usually requested by a specialist at an advanced age or following an acute fracture. Radiographs will not be a good indicator of osteoporosis; because too little or too much radiation penetrates the photographic film, which affects its quality and impairs the detection.
The best way to diagnose ostéoporose is to measure bone mineral density.
Today, the Dual-energy X-ray DXA method is used to measure bone density.
In this procedure, which takes about 15-15 minutes, the patient is exposed to low doses of X-rays.


Who Should Have A Bone Density Test?

The following individuals should be evaluated for bone mineral density by the DXA method:

  • All postmenopausal women under the age of 65 are at risk for osteoporosis
  • All women older than 65 years
  • All postmenopausal women who have a fracture
  • The association of osteoporosis with other diseases

Osteoporosis may be caused by other diseases.
The most important of these diseases are:

  • Asthma

Patients with asthma are at risk for osteoporosis, especially in the spine. There are several causes for this osteoporosis:

  • Corticosteroids in these patients can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Many asthmatics refuse to eat milk for fear of allergies to milk and other dairy products, and low consumption of dairy products can lead to osteoporosis.
  • In some people with asthma, physical activity and exercise can cause asthma attacks and shortness of breath.
    As a result, many people with asthma have limited physical activity, leading to decreased bone density and ostéoporose.
  • Diabetes
    People with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have osteoporosis.
    This decrease in bone density appears to be due to low insulin levels in these patients.
    Insulin is a type of growth hormone that increases bone density.
    People with type 2 diabetes also tend to have less physical activity, and this reduction in physical activity and exercise can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Rheumatism
    People with rheumatism, especially rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to have osteoporosis.
    The most important causes are:
  • In many of these patients, corticosteroids are part of the treatment, and this drug can cause osteoporosis.
  • Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis have little physical activity, and this decrease in physical activity can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis itself can reduce bone density, especially around the joints.

Your doctor or physiotherapist can help you build a safe exercise plan which suits your needs.
This may include strength training, like lifting weights, and weight bearing exercises (exercise done while on your feet so you bear your own weight) like brisk walking, jogging, tennis or volleyball.


Treatment for osteoporosis may include the following:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet and regular exercise
  • Calcium and vitamin D intake

Follow these guidelines to get enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis:

  • Adults under the age of 50 should consume 1000 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 units of vitamin D per day.
  • Women aged 51-70 should consume 1200 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 units of vitamin D per day.
  • Men aged 51-70 should consume 1000 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 units of vitamin D per day.
  • People over the age of 70 should consume 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 units of vitamin D per day.
  • Your doctor may recommend calcium supplements. (Link to Calcium Deficiency Article)
  • Follow a diet that provides the right amount of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Your doctor may prescribe higher doses of this vitamin if you have a risk factor for low vitamin D levels.

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