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What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist, although any bone can be affected. As part of the natural aging process bones begin to break down faster than new bones can form. For women, bone loss speeds up after menopause, when the body loses estrogen, the hormones that protects against bone loss.

Who is at risk?
Chances are … it could be you. One in two women and one in four men age 50 and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Caucasian and Asian women have the highest risk but osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. Though it is often thought of as a disease that only affects the elderly, osteoporosis can strike at any age. Known as "the silent thief," osteoporosis progresses without symptoms or pain until bones start to break. Every year, roughly 1.5 million people suffer from a bone fracture related to osteoporosis.

What are the risk factors of osteoporosis?
The risk factors include:
• Personal history of fracture after age 50
• Current low bone mass
• Being female
• Being thin and/or having a small frame
• Advanced age
• A family history of osteoporosis
• Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause, especially early or surgically induced
• Low lifetime calcium intake
• Vitamin D deficiency
• Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
• Presence of certain chronic medical conditions
• Low testosterone levels in men
• Inactive lifestyle
• Cigarette smoking & Excessive use of alcohol

How can I protect myself against osteoporosis?
Think of your bones as a savings account. The years for building bone mass are from prior to adolescence to about age 30. Some experts believe that young women can increase their bone mass by as much as 20 percent - a critical factor in protecting against osteoporosis. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis later. There are six steps, which together, can optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis. They are:

A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D - The average adult, under 50 needs about 1000 mg of calcium per day and 200IU of Vit. D/day.

Weight-bearing exercise - Two types of exercises are important for building and maintaining bone mass and density: weight-bearing and resistance exercises.

A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake

Maintain a healthy weight throughout your life

Bone density testing and medication when appropriate

Take steps to minimize the risks of falling, including regular vision tests - You can minimize your risk of falling by removing items such as small rugs that may cause tripping. Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower and have grab bars installed. Improving the lighting around your home, regular vision tests and other medical assessments are easy ways to make sure that impaired vision does not lead to falls.

Are there symptoms of osteoporosis?
"Osteoporosis is a disease that one is unaware of until it makes a sound. And that sound is not really an audible sound. To me that sound is the sound of pain experienced when a bone breaks".
  Vertebral fractures are difficult to quantify because only one third of these fractures come to clinical attention. Up to half of patients with a prior vertebral fracture will experience additional fractures within three years, with many occurring within the first year. Frail, elderly women and men who have suffered multiple fractures in the upper spine may develop stooped posture, or "kyphosis". They often have chronic lower back and side pain and difficulty walking. In extreme cases, people have trouble breathing and eating.

Treatment of Vertebral Fractures
The Goal of the treatment is to make your patient pain free as soon as possible and to prevent complications. The main stay of treatment is to provide rest so that the fractured veretebra heals in due course of time. Prolonged bed rest can increase Osteoporosis and has plenty of other associated complications. So, patient is to be mobilized as soon as he is pain free. In addition to rest you have to take bone building medication in form of Calcium, high protein diet, anabolic steroids, and other medication which help in increasing the bone mass. In case the pain does not does not subside in 3-6 weeks then you may be suggested to get a Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty.

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