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Osteoporosis - How To Get It Diagnosed & Treated?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Kulin R Shah 92% (1124 ratings)
Post Graduate Diploma in Diabetology (PGDD), MBBS
Endocrinologist, Mumbai  •  23 years experience
Osteoporosis - How To Get It Diagnosed & Treated?

The bone tissues are constantly renewed – the old and damaged bones are replaced by the new ones. The body thus maintains bone density. However, a serious condition such as osteoporosis can gradually weaken your bones.

Osteoporosis, also known as ‘porous bone’ is a condition that causes the bones to become brittle and weak. Osteoporosis occurs when the body stops forming as many bones as it did previously, resulting in reduced bone density.

Causes and Risk Factors:

The condition affects both men and women but is more common in females post-menopause. This is because, after menopause, there is a sudden decrease in the sex hormone oestrogen, which is essential to women’s bone health, as it promotes the activity of the osteoblast – cells that produce bone.

The following are the risk factors for osteoporosis –

  1. Age – Women above age 30
  2. A family history of osteoporosis
  3. Poor nutrition
  4. Lack of physical activity
  5. Low body weight
  6. Smoking
  7. Alcohol consumption
  8. Small body frame

Symptoms of Osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis does not exhibit warning signs in the initial stages. In most cases, people with osteoporosis are unaware of the condition until they end up with an injury or a fracture. As the condition progresses, you are likely to encounter the following symptoms –

  1. Brittle and weak nails
  2. Weakened grip strength
  3. Receding Gums
  4. A stooped posture
  5. The curvature of the spine
  6. Easy bone fractures
  7. Back pain
  8. Shortened height

The above signs develop gradually. The areas commonly affected are the spine vertebrae, wrist, and hip.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

To diagnose osteoporosis, the doctor will go through your medical history and perform a physical exam. Blood test and bone density test are recommended along with an X-ray to look for conditions that are leading to the loss of bone.

Treatment of osteoporosis involves a healthy diet, medications, physiotherapy and hormone-therapy to prevent bone loss and restore the strength of already brittle bones.

Bisphophonates - a class of drugs that helps slow down or prevent the loss of bone density

Calcium - Calcium carbonate and other calcium supplements such as lactate and gluconate are essential to maintain good bone health.

Vitamin D - Along with calcium supplements, the doctor may also prescribe vitamin D supplements to strengthen weak, fragile bones

PTH Analogue:

Parathyroid Hormone and Analogue controls the distribution of calcium and phosphate in the body. A high level of PTH triggers the transfer of calcium from the bones to the blood - it increases the absorption of calcium throughout the body. PTH analogue are used to treat and prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women and men, as it helps build bone mass and reduces the risk of fractures.

Hormonal Therapy:

Hormonal therapy refers to Oestrogen Replacement Therapy. The specialist may prescribe oestrogen as a pill or a transdermal patch. While using a patch, remember to change the patch at least once or twice a week. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may be asked to take a daily dosage of oestrogen along with progesterone for about two weeks every month.

Outlook:

Osteoporosis is a debilitating condition and can have adverse effects on your health – it can lead to fractures and other complications, and usually takes a long time to heal. However, the good news is, you can do a lot to treat and prevent osteoporosis – right from exercising, maintaining a balanced diet, taking appropriate therapies and medications. If you feel you are at risk or are experiencing symptoms related to the condition, then consult a doctor/specialist right away.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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