Osteoporosis

What is it?

Osteoporosis (osteo- bone, porosis- porosity) is a condition of the bone in which the bone becomes weak and brittle due to excessive loss of calcium, which makes the sufferer more prone to fractures even after minor falls. It is generally observed during and after the 40s. Serious cases, like osteoporosis of the Vertebral Column can cause vertebral compression fractures.

Causes

Osteoporosis is more frequently observed in females after their menopause. The following factors contribute to the risk of Osteoporosis:

  • Close family history
  • Occurrence of early menopause or hysterectomy (before 45 years of age)
  • Long term use of corticosteroid drugs
  • Low body weight
  • Smoking, as it hampers oestrogen production
  • High alcohol intake and high amount of salt in diet
  • Low testosterone levels in men

Symptoms

Initial stage symptoms do not reveal the existence of osteoporosis, and you may not even know you have osteoporosis until you break a bone from a minor fall or bump. Late symptoms include

  • Cramps in legs
  • Late healing of broken bones
  • Recurrent fractures

Diagnosis

Osteoporosis diagnosis:

  • X-Ray imaging
  • For measuring BMD i.e. Bone Mineral Density, DEXA scanning is employed.

Treatment

Osteoporosis can be treated in the following ways

  • Having a well balanced diet with sufficient calcium, vitamin D and protein
  • Regular exercise plan and a healthy lifestyle
  • Sometimes, the physician may recommend medications or supplements

Vertebral Compression Fractures can be treated with a minimally invasive, image guided therapy known as Vertebroplasty. Bones that are brittle/weakened by osteoporosis can be made stronger by injecting bone cement.