Osteoporosis (Weak bones)
Osteoporosis is a condition characterised by weak bones resulting from decreased mineralisation and reduced bone mass leading to an increased risk of fractures.
Osteoporosis is very common after menopause, when it is called post menopausal osteoporosis. This is a very specific condition where rapid bone loss occurs due to withdrawal of the hormone estrogen.
Bone mass is not constant. Bone is a dynamic tissue whose mass is affected by the process of bone resorption and new bone formation. At any given point of time, we are constantly losing bone by resorption as well as forming new bone. This is known as remodelling of bone.
Estrogen hormone prevents bone loss and facilitates new bone formation.
Factors which accelerate bone loss include:
- Increasing Age
- Female Gender
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Diet poor in Vitamin D, Calcium and other minerals
- Excessive caffeine or alcohol intake and smoking
- Steroid intake over prolonged period
- Any chronic debilitating illness like tuberculosis
Osteoporosis is a silent disease and may persist for years without causing any symptoms.
It affects the wrists, hips, spine and ribs.
It may cause bone pains and loss of height in the long run with a hunch back in extreme cases.
The commonest and the most dangerous complication is fractures. Hip fractures are particularly common among the elderly and often occur with the slightest of falls and are associated with high mortality and adversely affect the quality of life.
It is particularly important to pick up this condition in its early stages so that treatment is more effective and complications may be prevented.
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