Symptoms Of Osteoporosis

The symptoms of Osteoporosis can be detected in the advanced stages of the disease.

Osteoporosis is a common type of metabolic bone disease in which bones become thinner and weaker as a part of aging. If it is left untreated, bones will become extremely fragile and some of them will be likely to break or fracture.

Osteoporosis is most common in women over the age 50. Following the menopause women experience a rapid bone loss due to the decrease in estrogen production. After the age of 35, a woman starts to loose about one percent of bone density every year. Women who have a family history of osteoporosis, an early menopause, or who have smaller body frames are at greatest risk. Smoking, alcohol consumption, high caffeine intake, chronic diseases like arthritis, some intestinal diseases, having a surgery to remove ovaries before menopause, not getting enough calcium and hyperthyroidism are all associated with osteoporosis. Also Caucasian and Asian women are mostly likely to have this disease. Some men and young people get this disease, too. Use of steroid medications, excessive consumption of alcohol and low level of testosterone are the causes of osteoporosis in men.

Calcium and vitamin D are needed for strong bones. If calcium intake is not sufficient or if the body cannot absorb enough calcium, bone tissues become weaker. Throughout life calcium intake is important for bone formation. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption. Building strong bones by eating calcium-rich foods, maintaining a well-balanced diet and exercising during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against osteoporosis.

Bone loss occurs without symptoms. People can lose bone mass over many years but not know the problem. Osteoporosis is often referred as a silent disease. Most people may not be aware that they have osteoporosis until a fractured spine, hip or wrist occurs with a simple fall.

Symptoms occur late in the disease and they are:

- Loss of height as a result of weakened spines. A person may find that his/her clothes are no longer fitting and their pants looking longer. Patients may loose as much as 6 inches in height.

- Cramps in the legs at night

- Bone pain and tenderness

- Neck pain, discomfort in the neck other than from injury or trauma

- Persistent pain in the spine or muscles of the lower back

- Abdominal pain

- Tooth loss

- Rib pain

- Broken bones

- Spinal deformities become evident like stooped posture, an outward curve at the top of the spine as a result of developing a vertebral collapse on the back.

- Fatigue

- Periodontal disease

- Brittle fingernails

These symptoms also may indicate other health problems like arthritis or tendonitis.

Early detection and intervention are important in osteoporosis to slow the disease. Osteoporosis can be diagnosed with procedures like a complete medical and family history, bone density test, blood tests, spine X-ray and spine CT.

There are a number of medications and treatments that may help to increase bone density. Estrogen replacement therapy, Alendronate, Raloxifene and Calcitonin are some of them. However, the best treatment is prevention.

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