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Osteoporosis is a condition wherein the bones become brittle and weak; so much so that even mildly stressful activities such as coughing, bending over or even a slight fall (such as the one from a high rise chair) can result in fractures. Osteoporosis-related fractures commonly occur in the spine, hip or the wrist. The human body has a continuous mechanism of bone absorption and removal. In case of osteoporosis, the creation of new bones doesn’t happen in accordance with the removal of old bones.
The bones of the spine get extremely vulnerable to breakage and even cracking open. The fractures in the spine, also known as vertebral compression fractures can cause a sharp stinging pain in the back that may make sitting, standing, or even walking a very tardy task.
Abnormally less or high body weight
Menopause or low levels of sex hormones
Gender: This disorder is more likely to affect women as compared to men. Also women, who are above 50 are more likely to suffer from this debilitating disorder.
Race is a significant risk factor of osteoporosis. If you are of Asian descent, you are more likely to be affected by it.
Having a family history of osteoporosis will put you at a greater risk of this disorder.
Fractured or collapsed vertebra causing back pain
A stooped posture
A shrunken appearance (as if one has had loss of height)
Very fragile bones, thus increasing risks of fractures
Severe and sudden pain in the back
Difficulty in twisting or bending the body
Lower spine fractures are way more troublesome as compared to fractures in the upper spine. Fracturing more than a bone in the spine also remains a huge possibility.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Firstly, an X-ray or a computerized tomography (CT scan) will be done to have a closer look at the bones. A bone density test is another commonly used method of diagnosing osteoporosis.
Steroids and medications: Some medications may be used to prevent or combat osteoporosis. These include alendronate, ibandronate, risedronate and zoledronic acid.
Physical therapy: Just like muscles, bones get stronger too when you exercise. Weight-bearing and muscle- strengthening exercises are the most helpful in this regard and are considered best for the treatment of osteoporosis. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging or even swimming can prove to be immensely beneficial.
Diet: Make a diet chart that includes high-calcium food items, dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and low-fat milk, tofu, green vegetables such as collard greens and broccoli, sea fish such as salmon and sardines.
Salt: Limit salt intake
Therapy: Hormone replacement therapy (treatment method consisting of estrogens to alleviate and treat symptoms of osteoporosis) is another method of treatment that can be recommended by the doctor. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease concerning the bones. Decreased strength of the bones poses a risk for them to break. Osteoporosis is very common among older people, whose bones become brittle with age. The most common bones affected by this disease include the backbone, forearm bones and the hip bone. There are no such symptoms until a broken bone occurs. The bones weaken to such an extent that a break may happen in case of very minor stress. Usually, a broken bone is followed by chronic pain and the disability to perform daily activities. Surveys show that 15% of white people in their 50s and 70% of white people in their 80s are affected by osteoporosis.
What are the common causes and symptoms of osteoporosis?
- May occur due to the lowering of the 'peak bone mass index'.
- In women, bone loss increases after menopause stage due to lowering down of estrogen level.
- Also occurs because of another disease or previous treatments. This includes alcoholism, surgical ovary removal, hyperthyroidism, anorexia or any form of kidney disorder.
- Anti-seizure medicines, chemotherapy, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and taking of performance-enhancing drugs like steroid increase the bone loss rate.
- Lack of regular exercise may lead to osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis is defined as a 'bone density of 2.5 standard deviations below than that of a young adult'.
- Osteoporosis is hereditary in nature. People having a family history of osteoporosis are at a high risk of getting the disease.
- More than thirty genes are linked with osteoporosis development.
- If you have had a fracture before, you are at a risk of a repeat.
- Early menopause in women is also responsible for osteoporosis.
- People with a small structure and body build are at a risk of getting osteoporosis.
- Protein and vitamin deficiency makes your bones weak and makes you vulnerable to osteoporosis.
- Phosphoric acid present in soft drinks is another threat, which may cause the disease.
- People suffering from malnutrition are likely to get osteoporosis.
- Over replacement of L-Thyroxine may lead to osteoporosis.
- Use of heparin and warfarin for a long time decreases the bone density.
How can Osteoporosis be prevented?
The best way to avoid getting osteoporosis in the future is to maintain a preventive lifestyle.
- Exercise regularly
- Indulge in natural calcium sources
- Maintain intake of vitamin D and K
- Do not smoke and consume alcohol
- Don't undertake stressful physical activities
- Go for regular health checkups
- Stay fit and stay away from obesity
Osteoporosis is a disease you must stay away from. It leaves you physically incapable and unfit.
Scoliosis is the abnormal twisting and curvature of the spine. It is usually first noticed by a change in appearance of the back. There are several types of scoliosis based on the cause and age when the curve develops; the majority of patients have no known cause.
Typical signs include:
1. Visibly curved spine
2. One shoulder being higher than the other
3. One shoulder or hip being more prominent than the other
4. Clothes not hanging properly
5. A prominent ribcage
6. A difference in leg lengths
Back pain is common in adults with scoliosis. Young people with scoliosis may also experience some discomfort, but it's less likely to be severe. Seeking medical advice If you or your child has signs of scoliosis, make an appointment to see your spine specialist. They can examine your back and can refer you for an X-ray for confirmation. If you or your child are diagnosed with scoliosis, it is important to see a scoliosis specialist to talk about treatment options.
What causes scoliosis?
In around eight out of every 10 cases, a cause for scoliosis is not found. This is known as idiopathic scoliosis. A small number of cases are caused by other medical conditions, including:
1. Congenital scoliosis: Caused by birth defects.
2. Neuromuscular scoliosis: Common conditions are
- cerebral palsy
- a condition associated with brain damage
- muscular dystrophy
- a genetic condition that causes muscle weakness
- marfan syndrome
- a disorder of the connective tissues
3. Idiopathic Scoliosis: What causes idiopathic scoliosis is still unknown.
4. Adult scoliosis: In adults, age related changes in the discs and joints of the spine and a reduction in bone density may cause scoliosis. Adults can also experience worsening over time of previously undiagnosed or untreated scoliosis.
Scoliosis can usually be diagnosed after a physical examination of the spine, ribs, hips and shoulders. You may be asked to bend forward to see if any areas are particularly prominent. For example, one of your shoulders may be higher than the other or there may be a bulge in your back. Scans The specialist will take an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis of scoliosis.The X-ray images will also help determine the shape, direction, location and angle of the curve. The medical name for the angle the spine curves is known as the Cobb angle.In some cases, scans such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computerised tomography (CT) scan may also be recommended. Treating scoliosis in children If your child has scoliosis, their treatment will depend on their age and how severe it is. The main treatment options are:
Observation treatment is not always necessary for very young children because their condition often corrects itself as they grow. However, if the curve does not correct itself, it can reduce the space for the internal organs to develop in, so careful monitoring by a specialist is important. Casting in some cases affecting young children, the spine may need to be guided during growth in an attempt to correct the curve.
In a child aged under two years of age, this can sometimes be achieved by using a cast. A cast is an external brace to the trunk made out of a lightweight combination of plaster and modern casting materials. The cast is worn constantly and cannot be removed, but is changed regularly to allow for growth and remodelling. Bracing If the curve of your child's spine is getting worse, your specialist may recommend they wear a back brace while they are growing.
A brace cannot cure scoliosis or correct the curve, but it may stop the curve from getting worse. If a brace is used, it will need to be carefully fitted to your child's spine. Braces are often made of rigid plastic, although flexible braces are sometimes available. In general, modern back braces are designed so they are difficult to see under loose fitting clothing. It's usually recommended that the brace is worn for 23 hours a day, and is only removed for baths and showers.
However, it should be removed during contact sports and swimming. Regular exercise is important for children wearing a brace.The brace will usually have to be worn for as long as your child's body is still growing. For most children, this will mean they can stop wearing it when they are around 16 or 17 years old. Surgery is recommended, if your child scoliosis is severe and in case, other treatments have been unsuccessful, corrective surgery may be recommended. They type of surgery will depend on your child's age.
Surgery in children for younger children, generally those under the age of 8 to 9, an operation may be carried out to insert growing rods. These rods aim to allow for continued controlled growth of the spine while partially correcting the scoliosis. After surgery to insert the rods, your child will need to return to their specialist every 4 to 6 months to have the rods lengthened to keep up with the child's growth. In some cases, rods that can be lengthened using external magnets during an outpatient appointment may be used.
Surgery in teenagers and young adults operation where the spine is straightened using metal rods attached with screws, hooks, and/or wires, and bone grafts are used to fuse the spine in place. This metalwork will usually be left in place permanently, unless they cause any problems. After the operation, most children can return to school after a few weeks and can play sports after a few months. Possible complications of scoliosis Physical complications of scoliosis are rare, although serious problems can develop if it's left untreated.
Emotional issues having a visibly curved spine or wearing a back brace may cause problems related to body image Lung and heart problems In particularly severe cases of scoliosis the rib cage can be pushed against the heart and lungs, causing breathing problems and making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body. Nerve compression In some cases of scoliosis, particularly those affecting adults, the bones in the spine compress nearby.