Osteoporosis: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Stages and Treatments
Commonly asked questions about Osteoporosis:
- What is osteoporosis?
- What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
- What is the cause of osteoporosis?
- What are the stages of osteoporosis?
- What drugs are used to treat osteoporosis?
- How do I prevent osteoporosis and bone loss?
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses or makes too little of bone. As a result, bones may become weak and possibly break due to a fall, serious sneezing cases or minor bumps.
The direct meaning of osteoporosis means “porous bone” and when viewed under a microscope, holes and spaces are much larger than the healthy one. These have lost density or mass, and contain an abnormal tissue structure.
What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
There are typically no early symptoms in early stages of bone loss. However, once they have been weakened by osteoporosis, signs and symptoms include:
- Back pain
- Loss of height over time
- A stooped posture
- A bone fracture that occurs more easily
What is the Cause of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between new bone formation and old bone resorption. Calcium and phosphate are both essential minerals that require bone strength and constant growth.
Calcium is used for proper functioning of the heart, brain, and other organs. In order to keep these working the body reabsorbs calcium storage in bones to maintain blood calcium levels. If calcium intake is not sufficient or if the body fails to absorb enough of it, bone production and bone tissue are prone to suffer.
The leading cause is a lack of certain hormones (estrogen in women and androgen in men). Other factors include lack of vitamin D, weight-bearing exercise, and other age-related changes in endocrine functions.
What are the Stages of Osteoporosis?
- Stage 1: Begins at age 35 before osteoporosis is detectable.
- Stage 2: Occurs between ages 35-55 when it becomes detectable with special tests.
- Stage 3: Can begin as early as age 45 and is characterized by bone fractures.
- Stage 4: May begin as early as age 55 with fractures accompanied by chronic pain and deformity.
What Drugs are Used to Treat Osteoporosis?
The following drugs and medications are in some way related to, or used in its treatment, according to mayoclinic.org:
- Alendronate (Fosamax)
- Risedronate (Actonel)
- Ibandronate (Boniva)
- Zoledronic Acid (Reclast)
Hormone-like medications that are approved for preventing and treating osteoporosis include estrogens and raloxifene (evista). However, fewer women use this type of treatment due to the risk of heart attacks and possibly some types of cancer such as breast cancer.
Denosumab (Prolia) is a new medication shown to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture in men and women. People with reduced kidney function are also more prone to take denosumab instead of bisphosphonates.
Teriparatide (Forteo) is reserved for men and postmenopausal women with very low bone density who may have fractures or osteoporosis caused by steroid medication. This medication has a potential of somewhat rebuilding the bone and possible reversal of the disease.
How do I Prevent Osteoporosis and Bone Loss?
- Calcium intake: By storing calcium and other minerals in your bones at a young age, one is less likely to have weak and brittle bones in the future. Calcium absorption is improved with vitamin D, magnesium, and other trace minerals such as boron.
- Slow/stop bone loss: After the age of 35, mineral losses begin in men and women. Many supplements are proved to be essential for maintaining healthy deposits within the bone, such as:
- Calcium: 1,000-1,500 mg plus vitamin D 400 IU daily. Studies have shown that these two alone will slow mineral losses. When in presence of weak bones, take 1,500 mg of calcium daily.
- Magnesium & minerals to aid calcium absorption: Boron, manganese, copper and other trace minerals are critical for absorption and storage of calcium.
- Ipriflavone: This is a synthetic isoflavone. A large amount of positive scientific studies show its powerful bone-supporting abilities. 600 mg daily help reduce the rate of bone loss. This can be taken in the place of estrogen replacement therapy because it does not increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Soy products: Soy products help reduce bone loss, as natural isoflavones found in soy have an estrogen-like effect in the body, helping maintain bone density.
- Exercise: Will strengthen bones in older years and will improve mood, digestion, elimination, strength, and stamina.
- Eliminate soda: Cola drinks are high in phosphorous and can result in weaker bones.
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine: All of these three have been shown to promote calcium losses from bone and body.