By : Kate Flannery
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density and the quality of the bones are reduced, leading to weakness of the skeleton and increased risk of fractures, especially regarding the spine, wrist, hip, pelvis and upper arm. Osteoporosis is a condition that involves weakness of bones meaning that the possibility of fracture is higher, so it is necessary to adjust the lifestyle, work and activities to this illness. Osteoporosis literally means – porous bones, and is often called ‘brittle bone disease’.
Both men and women are prone to this disease
People are often not aware that they have brittle bones until the first fracture and, although osteoporosis affects both men and women, it is women who are more susceptible to osteoporosis, especially women in menopause. Experts suggest that one in two women and one in five men over 50 years of age will suffer bone fractures caused by osteoporosis. This statistic has given it a national public health high priority status.
Symptoms of the osteoporosis
Symptoms of osteoporosis aren’t manifested in any way at 60% of patients and what is worst, the disease is diagnosed only after the first fracture. Most often the first fracture occurs on the hands (ulna) or in the field of thoracic vertebra, while somewhat more difficult can be a fracture of the femur and hip fracture – when the patient, due to the inability to move, loses the ability to function normally in daily life. The remaining 40% of patients are in slightly more favorable position because, before any fractures, they can suffer from fluctuating back pain, which is slightly more intense when their back is in an upright position, and fade away when they lie down. Consequently, this disease is called the ‘silent epidemic’ because bone loss passes almost unnoticed.
What causes bone disease?
Osteoporosis is caused by the lack of hormones (typically estrogen), and lack of calcium, with the accompanying decrease of physical activity. All this undermines the structure of bones and leads to their weakening. Estrogen levels decline after menopause, putting women, especially those whose bones are small or have low body weight, to increased risk of the disease because their bone density is naturally reduced. An unbalanced and irregular nutrition, genetic predisposition, the use of steroids and alcohol, smoking, low testosterone (in men) and disorder of the thyroid and adrenal glands can also contribute to this disease.
It’s never too late or too early for the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis. Contribution to the growth of strong bones when you’re young is the best defense against osteoporosis later in life. The best way to treat and prevent osteoporosis is to get serious with your calcium supplements intake along with magnesium, minerals, vitamins D3 and K2. To help your body absorb the calcium it is important to get enough vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D can be obtained simply by exposure to sunlight and through diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Osteoporosis does not only occur due to insufficient calcium intake but because the daily diet doesn’t have sufficient quantities of nutrients needed for bone formation. Exercise is in many ways useful for bones, as well – bone loss slows down, it improves muscle strength and it helps to reduce the damage caused by falls. Any activity in which your body works against gravity, such as weight lifting, is welcomed. Particularly useful physical activities include – walking, dancing, jogging, climbing the stairs, etc.
Osteoporosis, together with fractures it causes, is a long-term condition, so in essence there is no concrete cure. However, many people who have brittle bones susceptible to fractures can still lead a full and active life and easily learn how to successfully cope with their situation.