Osteoporosis is a progressive loss of bone mass and is typically found in postmenopausal women. More than 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis. The condition can be seen in patients over 40, but more commonly in patients over the age of 60.
The body typically absorbs and replaces bone tissue, but in osteoporosis new bone creation does not keep up with the removal. Areas of the body typically affected include weight bearing joints like the hips and knees or the spine. Severe osteoporosis may lead to spinal compression fractures. This condition has no cure, but treatment can help reduce the degree of bone weakening and soothe symptoms and pain.
Common Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Many times people show no symptoms of osteoporosis and only find out they have the condition after a bone fracture. Symptoms develop as a result of the fracture itself or from compression on surrounding nerves. Some symptoms can include:
- Back pain
- Loss of height
- Pain/numbness/weakness of the arms and/or legs
Diagnosis of Osteoporosis
In order to properly diagnose osteoporosis, bone density needs to be measured. Bone density is determined 80% by heredity and 20% by lifestyle. The most common test used to measure bone density is the DEXA scan which measures the spine, hip, or total bone density to determine the bone strength. Other testing methods include ultrasound, quantitative computed tomography, bone densitometry, bone mineral density tests, urine and blood tests.
Treatment Options for Osteoporosis
The goal of treatment is to prevent bones from becoming weaker and strengthen already weak bones. Some options include:
- Healthy diet: Eat foods that provide nutrients and adequate calories. Try avoiding foods with extra sugar, carbohydrates, and fat.
- Exercise: Some kind of active exercise for 20-30 minutes 5 days a week will improves cardiovascular health.
- Medications/ dietary supplements: Different dietary supplements will work alone or with other treatment options to promote good health and decrease bone resorption.