Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break(Latin “porous bones”). The inside of a healthy bone has small spaces, like a honeycomb. Osteoporosis increases the size of these spaces, causing the bone to lose strength and density. In addition, the outside of the bone grows weaker and thinner.
Osteoporosis can occur in people of any age, but it is more common in older adults, especially women. People with osteoporosis are at a high risk of fractures, or bone breaks, while doing routine activities such as standing or walking.
Losing bone is a normal part of the ageing process, but some people lose bone density much faster than normal. This can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
Many other factors can also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:
• Long-term use of high-dose oral corticosteroids.
• Family history of osteoporosis – particularly history of a hip fracture in a parent.
• Low body mass index (BMI).
• Heavy drinking and smoking.
• Being female.
• Being an older adult.
• Poor nutrition.
• Physical inactivity.
• Small-boned frame.
Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between new bone formation and old bone resorption. The body may fail to form enough new bones, or too much old bones may be reabsorbed, or both. Two essential minerals for normal bone formation are calcium and phosphate.
Other conditions that may lead to osteoporosis include overuse of corticosteroids (Cushing syndrome), thyroid problem, lack of muscle use, bone cancer, certain genetic disorders, use of certain medications, and problems such as low calcium in the diet.
Early in the course of the disease, osteoporosis may cause no symptoms or warning signs. Later, it may cause height loss or dull pain in the bones or muscles, particularly low back pain or neck pain.
If symptoms do appear, some of the earlier ones may include:
• Receding gums
• Weakened grip strength
• Weak and brittle nails
There is no cure for osteoporosis, but proper treatment can help to protect and
strengthen bones. These treatments can help slow the breakdown of bone in body, and some treatments can spur the growth of new bone. The lifestyle changes can include increasing intake of calcium and vitamin D, as well as getting appropriate exercise.
• Diet: Young adults should be encouraged to achieve normal peak bone mass by getting enough calcium (1,000 mg daily) in their diet (drinking milk or calcium-fortified orange juice and eating foods high in calcium such as salmon), performing weight- bearing exercise such as walking or aerobics (swimming is aerobic but not weight-bearing), and maintaining normal body weight.
- Exercise: Lifestyle modification should also be incorporated into treatment. Regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of bone fractures associated with osteoporosis.
Later in the course of the disease, sharp pains may come on suddenly. The pain may not radiate (spread to other areas); it may be made worse by activity that puts weight on the area, may be accompanied by tenderness, and generally begins to subside in one week. Pain may linger more than three months.
People with osteoporosis may not even recall a fall or other trauma that might cause a broken bone, such as in the spine or foot.