Osteoporosis is weakening of the bones. In this disease, there is a completely disturbed balance between the breakdown of old bone tissue and the construction of a new one. Although bone size remains the same, their structure becomes weak and fragile.
Osteoporosis has several possible causes. It may occur in one or more bones as a result of the long immobilization of the body part – for example, due to the treatment of the fracture or prolapse of the disc. Some hormonal disorders – for example, Cushing’s syndrome – may, to a certain extent, cause general osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis may also be due to low protein or calcium intake, i.e. limited amounts of essential ingredients required for maintaining healthy bones (see Osteomalacia). However, the most common cause is aging. All bones are subject to osteoporosis due to the aging process.
Osteoporosis usually causes the symptoms only if it develops on the vertebrae. In this case, back pain occurs, body height decreases, and shoulders are rounded off due to the gradual compression of the weakened vertebrae. In rare cases, one or more vertebral may break with sudden, severe back pain.
Osteoporosis is a relatively rare disease among young people; it is much more common among older people. It is believed that about 25% of women over the age of 60 have clinical signs of osteoporosis. For about 75% of patients with upper leg fracture, osteoporosis is considered to be the major cause of fractures. In men, osteoporosis is more pronounced only after 70 years of age. X-ray recording reveals a certain level of this disease in at least 50% of people after 60 years of age. The disease most commonly affects older women, probably (at least partially) due to hormonal changes in postmenopausal women. However, although many elderly people have osteoporosis, most do not suffer from more severe symptoms (although osteoporosis affects the body’s height). Osteoporosis-impaired bones are much more prone to a fracture than healthy bones (e.g. due to the fall); such fractures are called “pathological” fractures.
If your spine hurts or if feel sudden and strong back pain, consult your doctor. If the doctor suspects that you have osteoporosis, he will refer you to X-ray which will help with diagnosis.
Self-help: eat good and varied foods rich in calcium (milk and cheese). Be more active. Physical activities maintain the health, as well as the strength of the muscles and the bones. Paracetamol tablets will relieve pain. Beware of falls.
Professional help: the consequences of osteoporosis can not be cured. Your doctor may prescribe calcium tablets to slow down the bone loss process. For women (postmenopausal), substitutional hormone therapy is used to minimize bone loss.