Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak and brittle. If left unchecked, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks (fracture). Any bone can be affected, but of special concern are fractures of the hips, spine, and wrists. If diagnosed early, progression of osteoporosis can be slowed and complications prevented.
In the early stages of osteoporosis, most people don't have symptoms. Usually, the first symptom of osteoporosis is wrist or hip fracture.
Could you have Osteoporosis? Please call our Joint and Spine Center Navigator at (615) 781-5870 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.
Osteoporosis symptoms that affect the spine may appear in some people. Symptoms may include:
- Chronic back pain
- Kyphosis, a condition marked by a stooped posture
- Quick feeling of fullness while eating
- Difficulty breathing
Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men. This is because they have less bone tissue than men and have a sudden drop in hormones—especially estrogen—at menopause.
Estrogen deficiencies occur as a result of:
- Menopause—Natural or surgical menopause increases your risk of osteoporosis. The risk of fracture increases significantly after menopause.
- Amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation before menopause)—Your risk of osteoporosis increases if you miss menstrual periods for three months or longer. Amenorrhea may occur with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, or with excessive or intensive exercise, such as long distance running.
Men have a higher bone density and lose calcium at a slower rate than women. However, after age 50, bone loss gradually increases. Risk factors for bone loss in men include:
In men, deficiencies of testosterone and, to a much minor extent, estrogen play a role in the development of osteoporosis. This may be related to:
- Advanced age
- Treatment for prostate cancer, which lowers testosterone levels
- Hypogonadism, a severe deficiency in the male sex hormone
Other risk factors that could increase chances for osteoporosis in both sexes include: Genetics, Dietary Factors, Lack of Exercise, Smoking, Bone Structure, Lack of Sunlight, Ethnic Background, Medications, and some Chronic Conditions.
The main screening test for osteoporosis is called a bone mineral density test (BMD). This is a painless, noninvasive method of measuring your bone mass. A BMD test can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs and can estimate your risk of having a fracture in the future.
With a BMD test, your bone mass is measured and then compared to that of either (1) a healthy 30-year-old adult (T-score) or (2) the expected bone mass of someone your age (Z-score). Because low BMD is common among older adults, comparison to peers your age can be misleading. The results of a BMD test will indicate whether you have normal bone density, low bone density (called osteopenia), or full-blown osteoporosis.
The treatment and management of osteoporosis involves lifestyle changes and medications. Although osteoporosis is highly preventable, it cannot be cured. Treatment focuses on reducing the incidence of fractures and slowing bone loss. Treatment can involve lifestyle changes, medications, surgery, as well as alternative and complementary therapies.
Concerned about Osteoporosis? Please call our Joint and Spine Center Navigator at (615) 781-5870 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.