Osteoporosis means “porous bones,” and though many more women are likely to develop this disease that weakens the internal structure of the bone, men can also suffer the disabilities that typically result in fractures to the hip, spine and wrist. Every bone in the body is at risk if preventive measures are not taken or if left untreated. Osteoporosis is a disease that comes with aging, but because it progresses without any painful symptoms – until the actual fracture occurs, the subtle signs and indicators of risk went largely unnoticed. Fortunately, the public has become very aware of this disease and many advances in treatment are now available.
Like all the other parts of the body, bones are in a continual state of renewal and breakdown. Bone density is determined by how much calcium, phosphorous and other minerals are available to help this process along. A full cycle of bone remodel or turnover takes about 2 to 3 months. When you’re young, new bone is made faster than the break down of old bone, and your bone mass increases. By your mid-30s the peak bone mass is reached. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age. Not getting enough vitamin D and calcium in your diet may lead to a lower peak bone mass and accelerated bone loss later. Though bone remodeling continues throughout life, generally you lose slightly more than you gain. At menopause, when estrogen levels drop, bone loss in women increases dramatically.
Although Advanced Orthopaedics has many surgical procedures to remedy the painful and debilitating fractures that can occur, we would much rather help you avoid such an outcome. Early detection is important in osteoporosis and we encourage you to talk with us about a prevention strategy and let us help you develop an ongoing program that keeps your bones strong and healthy.
Know Your Risk Factors:
Women start out with lower bone mass and also experience a sudden drop in estrogen at menopause that accelerates bone loss. Slender, small-framed women are particularly at risk. Men who have low levels of the male hormone testosterone also are at increased risk. However, from age 75 on, osteoporosis is as common in men as it is in women.
Osteoporosis runs in families. For that reason, having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk.
Too much thyroid hormone also can cause bone loss. This can occur either because your thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or because you take excess amounts of thyroid hormone medication to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Any weight-bearing exercise is beneficial, but jumping and hopping seem particularly helpful for creating healthy bones. Exercise throughout life is important, but you can increase your bone density at any age. It’s never too late to get to the gym and reap the benefits!
Excess Soda Consumption
The link between osteoporosis and caffeinated sodas isn’t clear, but caffeine may interfere with calcium absorption and its diuretic effect may increase mineral loss. In addition, the phosphoric acid in soda may contribute to bone loss by changing the acid balance in the blood. If you do drink caffeinated soda, be sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D from other sources in your diet or from supplements.
For men, alcoholism is one of the leading risk factors for osteoporosis. Excess consumption of alcohol reduces bone formation and interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
People who experience serious depression have increased rates of bone loss.
Corticosteroid And Other Medications
Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone, is damaging to bone. These medications are common treatments for chronic conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. If you need to take a steroid medication for long periods, we can monitor your bone density and recommend other drugs to help prevent bone loss.
Long-term use of the blood-thinning medication heparin, the drug methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications and aluminum-containing antacids also can cause bone loss. Drugs that prevent buildup of fluids in your body — diuretics — cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium, leading to thinning bones. Diuretics that cause calcium loss include furosemide (Lasix), bumetanide (Bumex), ethacrynic acid (Edecrin) and torsemide (Demadex).
Keeping Bones Healthy
Regular exercise, adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D which is essential for absorbing or metabolizing calcium, are the best way to keep your bones healthy. Under risk factors, make note of anything that your are doing that can easily be dispensed with – such as soda consumption. As for medical conditions that require certain types of drugs, these too can be mitigated. Remember, we are here to help, but we can only do that if you take the initiative to consult with us. As we have stated before, patients often ignore or put up with chronic or ongoing pain – and our advice is always the same – see us about any condition, especially back pain or if you are attaining a stooped posture. These can be the subtle signs of osteoporosis. A bone density test is simple and painless and can help us determine what course of action is right for you.