Osteoporosis

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is condition in which the structure of the bone becomes weak and fragile over time. Although this can occur as a result of normal aging, other conditions can cause it, such as some medications, medical conditions, and diet and lifestyle factors. Women older than 50 years of age are most commonly affected, although this condition can affect men as well. Many people have no symptoms until they break a bone after a minor accident. Treatment of osteoporosis includes taking regular weight-bearing exercise and taking calcium or vitamin D supplements or other medications to increase bone strength. With good management, many people with osteoporosis can improve their bone strength and avoid broken bones.

Risks

Osteoporosis is a condition where the normal structure of the bones become weak and brittle. This means that the bones can be broken more easily. Some degree of bone weakness occurs with age, but there are other causes for this condition, such as some medications, other medical conditions, such as hormonal or long-term kidney conditions, and not taking enough calcium in the diet. People who do not get enough sunlight due to health or cultural reasons are at high risk for osteoporosis. Women who have been through menopause tend to develop this condition most commonly, but it can also affect men and younger women.

Symptoms

Many people with osteoporosis have no symptoms. Some people only are diagnosed after they break a bone after a minor accident. Some people may have back pain, hip pain or foot pain. Over time, some people may become shorter and develop a stooped posture or humped back.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is usually made based on screening (testing people without symptoms) or following a broken bone. The diagnosis is confirmed by doing a low radiation X-ray called a DEXA scan, which measures the thickness of the bones.

Treatment

Treatment involves lifestyle changes and medications. Taking regular weight-bearing exercise, increasing calcium in the diet and taking care to get enough sunlight on the skin can all help to improve bone strength. Calcium and vitamin D supplements and medicines are also used to supplement these lifestyle changes.

Prevention

Taking calcium and vitamin D, healthy diet, regular exercise and avoiding smoking and the regular use of alcohol can decrease the risk of osteoporosis.