Osteoporosis is a serious condition causing broken bones, pain, and loss of mobility. However, the condition is treatable as well as preventable.
What is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a condition affecting the bone. Your bones become weaker and increase the risk of fractures, especially in the spinal vertebrae, hip, and wrist. The disease decreases the overall density and quality of bones.
What is the difference between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects your bones, while osteoarthritis is a disease that affects the joints and its surrounding tissues.
What are the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis?
For vertebral fractures:
Pain is localized to a specific midthoracic to lower thoracic or upper lumbar spine region
Pain could be sharp, dull, or nagging and may worsen on movement
For hip fractures:
Pain in the groin, anterior thigh, posterior buttock, and/or in the knee during weight-bearing
Decreased hip range of motion
What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?
There are a large number of risk factors associated to osteoporosis:
Hormonal changes at menopause
Diet low in vitamin D and calcium
Less physical activity
Low body weight
High alcohol intake
Long-term bed rest
Growing age (60 + years)
Long-term use of certain medications (corticosteroids)
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Various tests help to detect osteoporosis which includes: Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test, Bone Turnover Markers (BTM) and radiological assessment for vertebral fractures.
Other blood tests include Blood Calcium levels, Vitamin D, Thyroid, Parathyroid hormone, Follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone, alkaline phosphatase, and protein electrophoresis.
Why is a bone mineral density test done?
A bone material density test detects the levels of calcium and other minerals in the bone.
The test helps to diagnose osteoporosis as well as predicts the risk of developing bone fractures. There are a variety of BMD tests available:
DXA (peripheral DXA) measures bone mass at the forearm, finger, and heel
SXA (single-energy X-ray absorptiometry) measures the heel or wrist
QUS (Quantitative Ultrasound) uses sound waves to measure the heel or finger
DPA (Dual Photon Absorptiometry) measures the spine, hip or total body
SPA (Single Photon Absorptiometry) measures the wrist
QCT (Quantitative Computed Tomography) measures the spine or hip
PQCT (peripheral QCT) measures the forearm
DXA scan is the most common technique used for evaluating the risk of osteoporosis.
How does detecting bone turnover markers help?
There are 3 types of BTM:
Bone resorption markers
Bone formation markers
Markers of osteoclast regulatory proteins
They are measured in serum or urine and are mainly used to monitor the mechanism of action and efficacy of new drugs. However, if bone turnover marker is combined with bone mineral density, it can improve the prediction of fractures in post-menopausal women.
Why is the radiological assessment done?
A radiological assessment helps in evaluating the severity of the deformation and new deformities occurring on a vertebral fracture. Morphometry or MRI scans can also be done for a precise assessment of vertebral fracture features.
Can osteoporosis be reversed?
There is no complete cure for osteoporosis. However, medications can protect and strengthen your bones.
What are the treatment options for osteoporosis?
Several treatment options have been shown to be effective in maintaining bone density and reducing the risk of fractures.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements
What measures should be taken to prevent osteoporosis?
Maintain a nutritious diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D intake
Avoid undernutrition and protein malnutrition
Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking
Get tested and treated if required
Identify the risk factors
How can one prevent falls?
Make sure the house is well lit
Use a walking aid to control balance
Have your eyes tested
Minimize potential hazards around
Choose footwear that offers good comfort
Consider installing handrails (baths, toilets or stairs)
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