Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes a loss of bone density, which increases your risk of fractures. There are different kinds of bone issues but Osteoporosis is the most common. Osteoporosis weakens the bones, making them fragile and prone to breakage. It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a minor fall or sudden impact causes a bone fracture.
The most common injuries in people with Osteoporosis are:
- Wrist fractures
- Hip fractures
- Fractures of the spinal bones (vertebrae)
Causes of Osteoporosis
Losing bone is a normal part of the aging process, but some people lose bone density much faster than normal. This can lead to Osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
Women also lose bone rapidly in the first few years after the menopause because of hormonal changes. In general, women are more at risk of Osteoporosis than men, especially if the menopause begins early (before the age of 45).
Many other factors can also increase the risk of developing Osteoporosis, including:
- Extended use of high-dose oral corticosteroids
- Other medical conditions – such as inflammatory conditions, hormone-related conditions, or malabsorption problems
- Family history of Osteoporosis – particularly history of a hip fracture in a parent
- Long-term use of certain medications which can affect bone strength or hormone levels
- Having very low or very high body mass index (BMI)
- Heavy drinking and smoking
If you are at risk of developing Osteoporosis, you should take steps to help keep your bones healthy.
- Do regular exercise
- Including foods rich in calcium and vitamin D (like milk and milk products, ragi, soy, tofu, green leafy vegetables, eggs, fish)
- Take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D
- Make lifestyle changes – such as giving up smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption
Living with Osteoporosis
If you are diagnosed with Osteoporosis, take steps to reduce the chances of a fall, such as removing hazards from your home and having regular sight tests and hearing tests.
To help recover from a fracture, you can try using:
- Cold and hot treatments such as cold packs and warm baths.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – where a small battery-operated device is used to stimulate the nerves and reduce pain
- Relaxation techniques