Osteoporosis

  • What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and loss of bone tissue that may lead to weak and fragile bones. If you have osteoporosis, you have an increased risk for fractured bones (broken bones).

 

 

  • Does Osteoporosis Only Affect the Elderly?

Osteoporosis has often been thought to be a condition that frail elderly women develop. However, the damage from osteoporosis begins much earlier in life. Because peak bone density is reached at approximately 25 years of age, it is important to build strong bones by that age, so that the bones will remain strong later in life. Adequate calcium intake and exercise are essential for building strong bones.

 

  • Osteoporosis Symptoms: Fractures of the Spine

Fractures of the spine (vertebra) can cause severe "band-like" pain that radiates around from the back to the side of the body. Over the years, repeated spine fractures can cause chronic lower back pain as well as loss of height or curving of the spine, which gives the individual a hunched-back appearance of the upper back, referred to as a "dowager hump."

 

  • What Factors Determine Bone Strength?

Bone mass (bone density) is the amount of bone present in the skeletal structure. Generally, the higher the bone density, the stronger the bones. Bone density is greatly influenced by genetic factors and can be affected by environmental factors and medications.

For example:Men have a higher bone density than women.

                     African Americans have a higher bone density than Caucasian or Asian Americans.

Normally, bone density accumulates during childhood and reaches a peak by around 25 years of age. Bone density is then maintained for about 10 years. After age 35, both men and women will normally lose 0.3%-0.5% of their bone density per year as part of the aging process.

 

  • Menopause, Estrogen, and Osteoporosis

Estrogen is important in maintaining bone density in women. When estrogen levels drop after menopause, bone loss accelerates. During the first five to 10 years after menopause, women can suffer up to 2%-4% loss of bone density per year! This can result in the loss of up to 25%-30% of their bone density during that time period. Accelerated bone loss after menopause is a major cause of osteoporosis in women.

 

  • What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Osteoporosis?
  1. Female gender
  2. Caucasian or Asian race
  3. Thin and small body frames
  4. Family history of osteoporosis (for example, having a mother with an osteoporotic hip frac ture doubles your risk of hip fracture)
  5. Cigarette smoking
  6. Lack of exercise
  7. Diet low in calcium
  8. Poor nutrition and poor general health
  9. Malabsorption (nutrients in the bowels are not properly absorbed)
  10. Low estrogen levels
  11. Chemotherapy