Osteoporosis

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Overview

Osteoporosis, a disease common in menopausal women, is a condition in which bones become weak, brittle, and easily breakable. This is due to hormonal changes causing a decline in the bone density. Medication, diet modification and weight bearing exercises are some methods to prevent osteoporotic complications such as fractures.

Causes

Bones are in a constant state of break-up and re-modelling. As people age, old bone is broken down much faster than new bone is laid down. Low bone mass gained over the lifetime due to poor diet, lack of physical activities, etc. can contribute to an accelerated course of disease. Following are some risk factors:

  • Female gender
  • Asian ethnicity
  • Family history
  • Small body frame
  • Endocrine abnormalities (low sex hormone levels, thyroid dysfunction etc.)
  • Low calcium and vitamin D
  • Poor diet
  • Steroid abuse
  • Chronic diseases
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking or alcohol abuse

Symptoms

Generally, osteoporosis does not present with any symptoms except in cases of fractures and falls. Some include the following:

  • Vertebral fractures leading to back pain
  • Loss of height with time
  • Stooped posture
  • Easy fractures with minor injuries or falls

Diagnosis

After clinical history and examination, a type of an X-Ray called a DEXA scan can determine whether you have appropriate bone density, pointing towards a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

Treatment

Besides diet and lifestyle modifications with addition of weight bearing exercises, following therapies can be used:

  • Bisphosphonates
  • Hormone therapies
  • Denosumab
  • Teriperatide
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