What is Osteoporosis?

Understanding Osteoporosis

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a condition in which the body loses too much bone. As a result, bones become weaker and brittle, making them more susceptible to a break caused by a fall or even mild stress.

Bone, as a living tissue, is constantly being worn done and replaced. Osteoporosis arises when the creation of new bone cannot keep up with the loss of old bone. While this condition can affect men and women of all ethnicities, white and Asian women are at the highest risk of developing this health issue – especially when past menopause.

Approximately 54 million Americans have osteoporosis. More specifically, one in two women and one in four men will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

The team at Family Medicine and Geriatric Center would like to help you better understand what osteoporosis is, so you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.

Symptoms and Risk Factors of Osteoporosis

In the early stages of osteoporosis, you may not notice any symptoms of the condition. However, as the condition progresses, you may begin to notice:

  • Back pain
  • Stooped posture
  • Fractured/collapsed vertebra
  • Loss of height over time
  • Discomfort in extremities
  • Dental complications (e.g. tooth decay and loss)
  • Bone fractures

The “causes” of osteoporosis can be affected by a wide range of factors. Some of these factors are genetically inherited, while others are affected by an individual’s lifestyle. The factors that can affect whether or not one develops osteoporosis, include:

  • A person’s age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Family history
  • Hormones levels
  • Level of physical activity
  • Type of diet
  • Whether the person drinks alcohol or smokes
  • Genetics and family medical history
  • Medical illnesses such as arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, and lupus
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Side effects from medications

Issues Caused By Osteoporosis

Unfortunately, osteoporosis can cause a wide range of complications for the sufferer, the most prominent being the breaking of a bone.

Generally, osteoporotic bone breaks occur most frequently in the hip, spine, or wrist, but this can vary depending on the situation. For instance, a fall forward with arms extended may lead to a break in one of the arm’s bones.

In addition to broken bones, osteoporosis can also cause permanent pain and limit mobility. These physical health issues can then lead to emotional or psychological issues such as feelings of isolation or depression.

The breaking of bones can lead to other complications which increase the likelihood of loss of life.

When Should I See a Doctor?

During the early stages of life, our bones are in constant renewal and your bone mass increases. This process soon starts to slow down after our early 20s and meets peak bone mass by 30. The higher your peak bone mass is, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.

Depending on your health and any physical issues you may be dealing with, your doctor may suggest a bone density test. Screening for osteoporosis is recommended for all women aged 65 and over, while some guidelines recommend men aged 70 and older get checked as well.

If you’ve suffered a broken bone after a minor fall, a bone density test may need to be needed to better assess your situation.

If you suspect that you have osteoporosis or know someone who does, our team here at Family Medicine and Geriatric Center is happy to help you with the resources, information, and guidance you need.

Your health and well-being are at the forefront of our mission and the reason we do what we do. So, feel free to give us a call today to simply ask questions or make an appointment.