What is Osteoporosis? – Understanding Osteoporosis made Simple

What is Osteoporosis?

More often than not, the disease is more apparent in millions of women than men worldwide. It goes by the common moniker brittle bone disease. As it literally thins the bone making it resemble peanut brittle. Technically speaking it is a decreased density of bone mass resulting in bone thinning. The fracture can be in the form of cracking as in hip fractures or compression/collapsing breakages as happens in fractures of the spine and vertebra. It can occur anywhere in the skeletal system but more often in the ribs, hips, spine and wrists.

Causes of osteoporosis tend to be multifactorial.

Female gender is the number one risk factor. This is true especially in post-menopausal women not taking Calcium supplements and hormone replacement therapy. Being Caucasian or Asian also is a significant risk factor. A thin or small body frame is also considered to be at risk as well as a very strong family history of the disease. Other significant contributors to developing the disease are cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, low calcium diet, and sedentary lifestyle. In men, low testosterone levels plus the above risk factors may contribute to developing the disease. In the elderly, osteoporosis causes fatal complications like pneumonia and blood clots. These clots can develop into a pulmonary embolism once it dislodges and travels to the lungs causing death.

The goal of treatment of osteoporosis

The goal of treatment of osteoporosis is the prevention of fractures by increasing bone mass and reducing any further degree of bone loss. Early detection of the disease helps prevent complications down the line. Osteoporosis guidelines suggest bone density testing for all women aged 65 and over to help detect the presence of the disease and treat it early. While early detection can help a lot in preventing progression, there is no available cure yet for the disease and it is very hard to reconstitute bone already weakened by it. Performing osteoporosis exercises with the aid of a physical therapist can also delay its progression.

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