What is it?
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones grow more fragile and porous over time, making them more likely to break. Often known as the “silent disease,” osteoporosis is painless and many people don’t even know they have it until they suffer a broken bone after a minor injury, or begin to lose height. Sometimes the only symptom is a dull pain that is felt, in the hips, lower back, neck and wrists.
Generally, our bones reach a peak bone density at 25 to 30 years of age. Shortly afterward, we begin to lose bone density. Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a significant amount of density within our bones has been depleted.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment options will vary based on the results of your bone density scan, which will be used to estimate how likely you are to break a bone in the upcoming years. Your doctor may not turn to medication if they do not feel that your risk is high enough and may instead focus on minimizing risk factors for bone loss and falls.
If medication is used, the most common are forms of bisphosphonates which include Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva and Reclast. There are also medicines that are not bisphosphonates but produce very similar results such as Prolia or Forteo.
There are several factors that put you at greater risk for developing osteoporosis:
- Gender- women are more likely to develop osteoporosis
- Age- risk increases with age
- Race- you are at greatest risk if you are of white or Asian descent
- Family history- having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk
- Body frame- individuals with a smaller body frame tend to be at greater risk since they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Hormone levels- reduction of estrogen levels during menopause is one of the greatest risk factors for developing osteoporosis in women. Too much thyroid hormone can also increase risk due to its causation of bone loss
- Dietary- individuals with low calcium intake, eating disorders or who have had gastrointestinal surgery are at an increased risk
- Long term use of oral or injected corticosteroid medication such as prednisone or cortisone
- Any of the following medical conditions: celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney or liver disease, cancer, lupus, multiple myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis