Osteoporosis, a common yet neglected condition, affects one in three women and one in five men over the age of fifty. However, this bone disorder can strike a person at any age.
Osteoporosis, which literally means ‘porous bone’, is a disease in which the bone mass and bone strength are reduced. As we get older, we are no longer able to replace bone tissue as quickly as we lose it. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone formation does not match the bone loss. If not prevented or left untreated, the loss of bone occurs ‘silently’ and progressively. This reduces the density of bone, making them weak and easy to break, resulting in fractures.
Bone is a living tissue. Old bone is constantly replaced by new bone. Bone mass increases from birth, reaching a maximum strength and size (peak bone mass) in early adulthood. A person's peak bone mass is determined largely by genetic factors, but other factors such as nutrition, physical activity and disease also influence bone development. As we get older, we are no longer able to replace bone tissue as quickly as we lose it. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone formation does not match the bone loss.
As the loss is gradual and painless, often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs. The most common fractures associated with osteoporosis occur at the hip, spine and wrist. Spinal fractures can result in serious consequences, including loss of height, intense back pain and deformity. A hip fracture often requires surgery and may result in loss of independent living. But in some cases, a stooped back and loss in height may be the only visible signs that a person has osteoporosis.
However, osteoporosis is a preventable and treatable condition. A combination of lifestyle changes and appropriate medical treatment can prevent fractures. Recent advances in treatment of osteoporosis not only prevent further bone loss but can also lead to the formation of new bone.
Therefore, if you are more than 50 years or have any of the risk factors, or have had a fracture at wrist, spine or hip, then it is highly recommended that you seek advice from an expert to assess your bone health status and take the necessary treatment to prevent further complications.