In the result of osteoporosis or fragile bone disease the quality and density of bones decrease, bones become thinner and more fragile, increasing the risk of bone fractures in the case of fall, bruise or without no apparent reason. Osteoporosis develops gradually, and often the first symptom of osteoporosis is bone fracture. The most common places of osteoporosis-related bone fractures are wrist bones, backbone and hip bone.
How does osteoporosis develop?
As it is known, there are metabolism processes in the bone tissues – the breakdown and formation of bone tissues. Up to 20 to 30 years of age bone density reaches its peak, but after 40 to 50 years of age the breakage of bone tissues is greater than formation of bone tissues, therefore bones become more fragile.
Factors that encourages the development of osteoporosis:
- Heredity (parents have had bone fractures after minor injuries);
- Hormonal changes (for women after menopause, when the body no longer produced the female hormone – oestrogen);
- Insufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D in the diet;
- Unhealthy lifestyle;
- Immobility (not enough walking or other weight-bearing activities);
- Rapid weight loss;
- Excessive usage of coffee (more than 4 cups a day);
- Excessive consumption of alcohol;
- Long-term usage of certain medicaments (for example, corticosteroids).
Osteoporosis is a widespread disease – osteoporosis-related bone fractures affect every third woman and every fifth man that are older than 50 years.
How to diagnose osteoporosis?
The simplest way how to diagnose osteoporosis is to determine the bone mineral density (BMD). BMD can be determined by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry or, in other words, osteodensitometry, which is performed by DEXA apparatus. It is a simple and painless procedure, which is similar to X-ray examination and which allows to determine the mineral density of backbone and hip bone.
How to cure osteoporosis?
The purpose of osteoporosis therapy is to stop the loss of bone tissues and the development of disease, thereby reducing the risk of bone fractures.
A healthy lifestyle helps to get a maximum benefit from the treatment. This includes a balanced, vitamin D and calcium-enriched diet, weight-bearing activities, non-smoking, and restriction of alcohol consumption. D vitamin and calcium play an important role in formation of strong bones – vitamin D is needed to absorb the calcium.
Similarly as muscles, also bone structure deteriorates if bones are not loaded. Regular, weight-bearing physical activities are needed to stimulate the bone growth and thus their strength.
Osteoporosis patients should use special medicaments that prevent the loss of bone tissues, making bones stronger and restoring them, thus reducing the possibilities of bone fractures. It is important to take medicines for as long as the doctor prescribes it. Usually these medications should be used for 3 to 5 years, as only a long-term and regular usage of madications makes bones strong and helps to avoid bone fractures.
Prophylaxis of osteoporosis
The best time for prophylaxis to protect ourselves from osteoporosis is youth. Physical activities, calcium-rich diet, sufficient exposure to the sun for synthesis of vitamin D help to develop strong bones and positively affect their metabolism. The same things help to keep bones strong in later life as well.