Osteoporosis is also known as the “silent disease” because one can’t feel bones weakening, until it makes its first signs. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone.
When young, our body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and our bone mass increases. But in the early 20s this process slows, and most people reach their peak bone mass by age 30. At older ages, bone mass is lost faster than it’s created.
Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and so brittle that even a slight fall or a mild move such as bending over or sneezing can cause a fracture. Such fractures occur mostly in the hip, wrist or spine.
5 Symptoms of osteoporosis
In the early stages of bone loss the symptoms are unnoticeable. But as bones weaken, some signs and symptoms may include:
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time
- A hunched posture
- A bone fracture easier than expected
13 risk factors for osteoporosis you should know. A number of factors increase the likelihood that you’ll develop osteoporosis — including:
- The older you get, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
- Your sex. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than are men.
- More risk of osteoporosis if you’re white or of Asian descent.
- Family history. Bone mass is inherited, having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis increases your risk.
- Body frame size. Men and women who have small body frames tend to have a higher risk because they might have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
- Early menopause
- Lowered sex hormone levels tend to weaken bone. Reduction of estrogen levels in women at menopause, or cancer treatment, men’s reduction in testosterone levels as they age, treatments for prostate cancer are likely to increase bone loss.
- Thyroid problems, overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands.
- Low calcium intake contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
- Eating disorders. Limiting food intake and being underweight weakens bone in both men and women.
- Gastrointestinal surgery performed either for the purpose to lose weight or gastrointestinal disorders.
- Steroids and other medications interfere with the bone-rebuilding process.
- Medical problems, such as: Inflammatory bowel disease, kidney or liver disease, cancer, lupus, myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis
3 lifestyle habits that increase your risk of osteoporosis.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Spending a lot of time sitting increases the risk of osteoporosis. Take short breaks and try weight-bearing exercises and activities to help you have a good posture, like walking, running, jumping, dancing and weightlifting are particularly helpful.
- Excessive alcohol consumption. You shouldn’t have more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
- Tobacco use. Although it isn’t clear why tobacco use contributes to weak bones.
Can osteoporosis be prevented? In some cases, yes.
- Maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of protein, include soy, nuts, legumes, seeds, low-fat dairy products and eggs. If you’re not getting enough protein supplements of calcium and vitamin D are an option.
- Proper exercise is essential for keeping your bones healthy and slow bone loss. Try strength training exercises with weight-bearing and balance exercises, to strengthen muscles and bones.
- Medication or supplements of calcium and vitamin D can prevent it and even strengthen bones.
- Maintain a healthy body weight
Why you should have a BMD test (bone mass density). The test will:
- Detect low bone density before a fracture occurs.
- Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis.
- Predict your chances of bone fracture.
- Determine your rate of bone loss, and the effects of treatment.
If you notice any signs of osteoporosis, our qualified staff will advise you and offer personalized treatment at Eversharp Physical Therapy Center.