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Osteoporosis is a relatively common condition that affects as many as 54 million men and women in the U.S., according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Because it leads to brittle, more fragile bones, you are at much higher risk for fractures when you have this disease. The condition forces many individuals to alter their lifestyle habits to reduce the danger, which can significantly impact your quality of life in some cases.

At the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio, we understand the profound effect osteoporosis can have on your daily life and work with you to prevent, diagnose and treat this condition. We combine screening and testing for osteoporosis with a focus on prevention as well as treatment of the disease. We use a full-bed DEXA scanner, which is considered the most accurate method of bone density testing available today. If we find you have a low bone density, we can initiate treatment the same day as you scan.

Osteoporosis: An Overview

Osteoporosis means porous bone, which is an accurate description of what happens to the bone over time. As density inside the bone is lost, it becomes brittle and prone to breakage. The most common areas for osteoporosis-related fractures are the wrists, hips and spine. While the condition can occur in both men and women, it is more common in women and particularly problematic around the time of menopause when hormonal changes can accelerate the process.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

There are four major symptoms that are associated with osteoporosis. Unfortunately, they usually do not develop early on in the condition, making it difficult to spot them early. But the risk factors could give you an idea if you are someone likely to develop this condition.
Here are the four most common symptoms:

  1. Back pain
  2. Loss of height
  3. Hunched posture
  4. Easily breakable bones

You may want to speak with a physician about these conditions if you have any of the risk factors or symptoms associated with this disease.

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Your bones contain living tissue that is broken down and replaced much like the other cells in your body. Osteoporosis occurs when the breakdown of the bone occurs faster than its replacement, leading to insufficiencies in the living matter.

But to break it down further, let’s go through all of the potential causes of this disease.

  • Sex. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
  • Age. The natural aging process causes your bones to become more brittle, increasing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
  • Race. People of white or Asian descent are much more likely to develop osteoporosis over other races.
  • Family history. If any of your family members have this condition, it is much more likely that you will develop it as well since it is tied to genetics.
  • Body frame. People with smaller frames and bone structures are more likely to develop the condition because they have naturally less bone mass.
  • Sex hormones. A decrease in estrogen is strongly tied to the decline of bone strength and the development of osteoporosis. Reduced testosterone levels have also been linked to this condition, as seen in patients who have undergone treatments that inhibit this hormone’s level.
  • Thyroid concerns. An excess of thyroid hormone can cause bone less. If you have issues with your thyroid hormone production, you might be at a greater risk.
  • Other hormone concerns. Overactive parathyroids and adrenal glands have also been linked to osteoporosis.
  • Calcium deficiency. Too little calcium throughout your life can play a role in the strength of your bones as they develop.
  • Eating disorders. Malnutrition can severely weaken bone strength in your body, rapidly increasing the development of osteoporosis.
  • Gastrointestinal surgery. Your stomach is responsible for absorbing nutrients like calcium, so if you shrink the size of your stomach, you may not be getting the nutrients you need to maintain bone health.
  • Steroid use. Substances like prednisone and cortisone interfere with bone health.
  • Pre-existing conditions. Celiac disease, kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, multiple myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and other diseases increase your risk level.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle. Sedentariness, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use have all been linked to osteoporosis.

Can Osteoporosis Be Reversed?

No. Osteoporosis cannot be completely reversed or cured. But there are a number of steps you can take to improve your health and adjust your lifestyle to successfully manage your bone loss. Each case of osteoporosis is different, and the results of your treatment will depend on many different factors.

Complications Associated with Osteoporosis

Fractures are a severe complication with osteoporosis, particularly fractures of the hip or spine. Some people suffer spinal fractures without even falling. The break might occur from something as simple as reaching for an object or sneezing. These fractures can lead to loss of height, poor posture and severe pain.

Hip fractures are typically the result of a fall and can be very debilitating. These injuries often require surgery and months of rehabilitation. Some people may never recover fully from a hip fracture, and the condition is even linked to premature death for some older adults.

Osteoporosis Treatment Options

While the primary focus in managing osteoporosis is prevention, once the condition is diagnosed, there are ways to treat the disease and reduce your fracture risk. Nutrition counseling and exercise will help to prevent additional bone loss and strengthen your muscles to support the bones. Medications are also available to increase bone mass and decrease your risk for fractures.

Osteoporosis is a painful, debilitating condition, but the good news is there are ways to manage this disease today. Contact the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio today at 419-222-6622 to find out how we can help.