Osteoporosis: Symptoms, Causes, Complication, Treatment And Preventions
Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine.
Bone is living tissue, which is constantly being absorbed and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.
There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs and symptoms that include:
Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
Loss of height over time
A stooped posture
A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected
Your bones are in a constant state of renewal — new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you’re young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and your bone mass increases. Most people reach their peak bone mass by their early 20s. As people age, bone mass is lost faster than it’s created.
How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.
Bone fractures, particularly in the spine or hip, are the most serious complication of osteoporosis. Hip fractures often result from a fall and can result in disability and even death from postoperative complications, especially in older adults.
In some cases, spinal fractures can occur even if you haven’t fallen. The bones that make up your spine (vertebrae) can weaken to the point that they may crumple, which can result in back pain, lost height and a hunched forward posture.
For both men and women, the most widely prescribed osteoporosis medications are bisphosphonates. Examples include:
Alendronate (Fosamax, Binosto)
Risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia)
Zoledronic acid (Reclast, Zometa)
Estrogen, especially when started soon after menopause, can help maintain bone density. However, estrogen therapy can increase a woman’s risk of blood clots, endometrial cancer, chest cancer and possibly heart disease.
Less common osteoporosis medications
If you can’t tolerate the more common treatments for osteoporosis — or if they don’t work well enough — your doctor might suggest trying:
Teriparatide (Forteo). This powerful drug is similar to parathyroid hormone and stimulates new bone growth. It’s given by injection under the skin. After two years of treatment with teriparatide, another osteoporosis drug is taken to maintain the new bone growth.
Denosumab (Prolia). Compared with bisphosphonates, denosumab produces similar or better bone density results while targeting a different step in the bone remodeling process. Denosumab is delivered via a shot under the skin every six months. The most common side effects are back and muscle pain.
Three factors essential for keeping your bones healthy throughout your life are:
Adequate amounts of calcium
Adequate amounts of vitamin D