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WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak due to decreased bone mass and manifests with fractured bones. One can experience joint pains. This is referred to as a "silent disease" because it presents with no symptoms and individuals cannot acknowledge that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone even on a minor fall or due to over stress. In osteoporosis, the bone density is below 2.5 standard deviations that of a young adult measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. It affects more than 50 million people across the world every year. It is more common in Asians and women are at a greater risk than men. Over 80% of people above 70 years suffer from osteoporosis. Typical bones that are involved in osteoporotic fractures are vertebrae, hip and wrist bones.

WHAT CAUSES OSTEOPOROSIS (Joint Pains)?

Bone is resorbed (broken down) and formed throughout life. Osteoclasts are a type of bone cell that break down bone tissue whose function is critical for the maintenance, repair, and remodeling of bones of the vertebral skeleton. Osteocytes and osteoblasts (bone forming cells) are responsible for this mechanism. Any imbalance between osteoclasts and osteoblasts can cause osteoporosis. When osteoclasts degrade bone matrix faster than osteoblasts that involve in rebuilding of the bone, it leads to low density of the bone. Thus, bones become fragile and are prone to fractures.

Osteoporosis occur with increased age and in women, especially postmenopausal ones who are more predisposed due to low estrogen levels and surgical removal of ovaries. Family history of osteoporosis is more likely to get inherited as almost 30 genes are associated with development of the disease. Alcohol consumption, smoking tobacco, malnutrition, Vit D deficiency, physical inactivity, high dietary protein aggravates the incidence of the disease.

WHO ARE AT RISK OF FRACTURES?

Osteoporosis is referred to as a "silent disease" because it presents with no symptoms. Individuals are often taken by surprise when they find out that they break a bone upon a minor fall or due to minor stress. People at risk for fractures due to osteoporosis are elderly people and those with impaired eye sight. Besides there are others who suffer from balance disorders, neurological disorders that impair gait, dementia, orthostatic hypertension, syncope and seizures.

If you are aware that osteoporosis runs in your family, then you should be very careful. talk to a doctor now regarding how your situation stands today. After all, prevention is better than cure.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT AND HOW TO MANAGE OSTEOPOROSIS?

Diet: Recent research proved that calcium and Vit D deficiency contribute to joint pains and osteoporosis. Therefore, it is necessary to eat foods rich in calcium and Vit D like milk, green leafy vegetables, almonds, salmon etc. The best source of Vitamin is Sunlight. So, a brisk walk in the morning between 10AM to 2PM helps to get Vit D. Avoid alcohol and smoking.

Exercise: Immobility in people over 50 years causes brittle bones, so participating in regular physical activity is a must to prevent the disease.

Fall prevention: Elderly people should be little cautious while walking. They should take support while walking to prevent falls.

Medical Therapy: Drugs like bisphosphonates are used to reduce the risk of fractures in people who have already sustained fractures. Correcting underlying diseases that cause osteoporosis helps to prevent future instances.

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