What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a wasting of the bones in which the loss of old bone is occurring faster than new bone is being formed. This results in brittle bones that gradually grow weaker with a higher risk of fracture from even mild stress. Fractures are most likely to impact the hip, spine, or wrist. Osteoporosis can happen to both genders and all races as we age. However, post-menopausal white and Asian women have the highest risk. Symptoms of osteoporosis may include back pain, loss of height, stooped posture, and easy or frequent fractures. Osteoporosis can be diagnosed with a DEXA scan to determine bone density.

What causes osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis most commonly occurs due to menopause and the aging process. Some patients are genetically predisposed to have increased bone loss. In addition, there are other factors that can contribute significantly. As a result, patients should undergo evaluation for secondary causes of osteoporosis. These can include hyperparathyroidism, thyroid disorders, malabsorption syndromes such as celiac disease and poor nutrition. Certain medications, such as long-term use of corticosteroids, can lead to osteoporosis. Lifestyle factors like heavy alcohol or tobacco use can also significantly impact the bones. 

How can Osteoporosis be prevented?

Prevention of osteoporosis can be accomplished by eating a healthy diet and by regularly engaging in weight bearing exercise. In societies where fewer animal products—including milk—are consumed there is generally a lower incidence of osteoporosis. When larger quantities of animal products are consumed—including dairy—osteoporosis occurs more frequently. From a dietary perspective, a plant based whole foods diet, reduces the risk of osteoporosis. While all exercise has been linked to bone health, weight or load bearing resistance exercises are the best form of exercise and the only proven way to increase bone density. Balance exercise can be helpful to prevent falls and fractures. Other important principles for osteoporosis prevention include maintaining normal body weight, getting adequate calcium (dark green leafy vegetables is a great source) and Vitamin D (from sunlight or oral supplementation).

How is Osteoporosis treated?

When bone loss is occurring, the treatment decision will depend on your estimated risk calculation for experiencing a fracture in the next 10 years. When your risk is low, instead of medications your treatment may simply include a modification of risk factors to prevent or slow bone loss. When your risk is higher medications such as bisphosphonates, monoclonal antibody medications such as denosumab, hormone replacement after menopause, and bone-building medications. If you are suffering from progressive osteoporosis and need an Endocrinologist who understands and will provide effective treatment, call LiveNew today.

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