Osteoporosis and Your Bones
Osteoporosis, or thinning bones, is a serious condition that can result in tremendous pain with fractures. Risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, being female, low body weight, low sex hormones such as during menopause, smoking, and some medications. There are no symptom of this bone disese until you fracture a bone. Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis include and vitamin D, regular exercise, and osteoporosis medications, if needed.
Osteoporosis often starts silently and may not be found until a bone fractures. But sometimes, symptoms appear. Osteoporosis can be a silent disease, but many patients suffer symptoms such as pain and height loss.
A person is often not aware that they have osteoporosis untila fracture occurs. But there are occasionally symptoms of the disorder. They could include backache, a gradual loss of height and an accompanying stooped posture, and fractures of the spine, wrist, or hip.
You should call your doctor about osteoporosis if you develop a backache or sudden severe back pain, which can indicate a spinal compression fracture caused by osteoporosis. Also call your doctor if your dental x-ays reveal a loss of bone in the jaw, which can be a sign of osteoporosis. It could also signal gum disease.
It s important to identify the symptoms of spinal compression fractures and notfy your doctor right away. Sudden, severe back pain, especially in older women, may sigal a spinal compression fracture or another serious condition. Anyone with significant back pain, especially a woman who is near or over age fifty, should see a doctor. Most compression fractures in women over fifty are due to osteoporosis and treatent can help reduce the chance of further compression fractures.
One or more symptoms can indicate a spinal fracture, such as sudden, severe back pain (though many times the symptoms can come on gradually and worsen over time), worsening of pain when standing or walking, some pain relief when lying down, difficulty and pain when bending or twisting, loss of height, and deformity of he spine--the curved, "hunchback" shape.
The pain typically occurs with a slight back strain during an everyday activity, such as lifting a bag of grocries, bending to the floor to pick something up, slipping on a rug or making a misstep, lifting a suitcase out of the trunk of a car, and/or lifting the corner of a mattress when changing bed linens.
There are different signs of spinal compression fracture pain. The pain exerience of a spinal comression fracture can vary. For many people, the pain will subside while the bone is healing. That can take up o two or three months. Other people will continue feeling pain, even if the fracture has healed. Not everyone feel a clear-cut spinal pain when a fracture occurs. In some cases, there is virtually no pain involved with spinal compression fractues. The fractures may occur so gradually that the pain is relatively mild or unnoticeable.
For some people, the pain may evolve into a chronic back ache in the injured area. For others, the gradual curving of the spine is the first indication that multiple fractures have occured. When multiple spinal compression fractures have occurred, there is considerable change in the spine. This can affect the internal organs and body functions:
*Height loss: With each fracture of a spinal bone, the spine loses some of its height. Eventually, after several collapsed vertebrae, the person's shorter statue will be noticeable.
*Kyphosis (curved back): These fractures often create wedge-shaped vertebral bones, which makes the spine bend forward. Eventually, neck and back pain may develop as your body tries to adapt.
*Stomach complaints: A shorter spine can compress the stomach, causing a bulging stomach and digestive problems like constipation, less appetite, and weight loss.
*Hip pain: The shorter spine brings the rib cage closer to the hip bones. If rib and hip bones are rubbing against each other, there will be discomfort and pain.
*Breathing problems: If the spine becomes severely compressed, lungs may not function properly and breathing can be seriously affected.
The symptoms of spinal compression fractures are obviously different for every person.
Osteopenia refers to bone mineral density (BMD) that is lower than normal peak BMD but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. Bone mneral density is a measurement of the level of minerals in the bones, which shows how dense and strong they are. If your BMD is low compared to normal peak BMD, you re said to have osteopenia. Having osteopenia means there is a greater risk that, as time passes, you may develop BMD that is very low compared to normal, known as osteoporosis.
Bones naturally become thinner as people grow older because, beginning in middle age, existing bone cells are reabsorbed by the body faster than new bone is made. As this occurs, the bones lose minerals, heaviness (mass), and structure, making them weaker and increasing their risk of breaking. All people begin losing bone mass after they reach peak BMD at about 30 years of age. The thicker your bones are at about age 30, the longer it takes to develop osteopenia or osteopororsis.
Some people who have osteopenia may not have bone loss. They may just naturally have a lower bone density. Osteopenia may also be the result of a wide variety of other conditions, disease processes, or treatments. Women are far more likely to develop osteopenia and osteoporosis than men. This is because women have a lower peak BMD and because the loss of bone mass speeds up as hormonal changes take place at the time of menopause. In both men and women, the following things can contribute to osteopenia:
*Eating disorders or metabolism problems that do not allow the body to take in and use enough vitamins and minerals
*Chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroids used to treat a number of conditions, including asthma
*Exposure to radiation
Having a family history of osteoporosis, being thin, being white or Asian, getting limited physical activity, smoking, regularly drinking cola drinks, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also increase the risk of osteopenia and, eventually, osteoporosis.