Osteoporosis is a chronic disease that manifests itself in the gradual thinning of bone tissue and disorders of its structure. As a result, the bones become thinner, more fragile and also more prone to fractures. The disease may initially appear very inconspicuous, but later severe back pain often occurs, there is a loss of body height, reduced spinal mobility or the formation of a hump.
What is osteoporosis?
Thanks to bone metabolism, there is a constant reconstruction in every single bone of the human body . While bone formation predominates in childhood and adolescence, later the situation changes and after a short period of balance, its degradation predominates in adulthood (roughly after the age of 30). The natural loss of bone tissue in humans in their fifties is around 1-2% per year, but due to various causes there can be a significant increase.
Osteoporosis is sometimes called the “silent bone thief,” because at first it can seem very inconspicuous. Bone thinning may not be obvious at first glance, but pores gradually begin to form on the bones, calcium and other important minerals are lost. As a result of this disease, roughly one in three women and one in six men over the age of 50 suffer a fracture.
The main causes of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis can be associated with a variety of causes. There is a higher risk, especially in postmenopausal women , in whom the production of the female sex hormone estrogen is reduced and its protective effect on the bones is thus gradually disappearing. For this reason, frequent fractures occur, with up to 50% of women complaining.
OTHER RISK FACTORS:
- Age – age over 70 years
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Calcium deficiency
- Loss of sex hormones ( menopause and andropause )
- Low body weight
- Lack of exercise and physical activity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Some medicines (such as glucocorticoids)
- Occurrence of osteoporosis in parents
- Some chronic diseases
FORMS OF THE DISEASE
According to what caused osteoporosis, we distinguish two basic forms of this disease. Primary osteoporosis may be associated with female menopause, natural bone loss at an advanced age, or is idiopathic, meaning that the specific cause is not clearly defined.
As for the secondary form , we can always recognise a specific cause. These are either poor eating habits, specific medications and diseases, or excessive alcohol intake. Some factors that cause osteoporosis can be influenced, others are unknown or we will do nothing about them.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis? Patients usually do not notice any significant changes at first , only in the advanced stage of the disease can the following symptoms appear:
- Severe back pain
- Easy bone fragility
- Gradual loss of body height (up to 20 cm)
- Development of round backs and creation of a hump
- Reduced mobility of the thorax and spine
- Fractures most often occur in the wrist and other bones of the hands, in the neck of the femur and in osteoporosis of the spine also on the vertebrae. Fractures can occur very easily with any minor injury, fall or even during normal activities.
The so-called whole-body osteodensitometry or DXA is currently used to diagnose osteoporosis . This low-stress X-ray examination lasts about 20 minutes, and doctors are able to determine the amount of bone mineral in the most endangered areas thanks to the absorbed radiation. The results may reveal either less severe bone damage (osteopenia) or osteoporosis itself.
There is also a blood test , according to which doctors determine the levels of individual hormones, the amount of calcium, phosphorus and the active metabolite of vitamin D. These values can then help them determine the exact cause of osteoporosis.
How is osteoporosis treated?
When a patient’s osteoporosis is confirmed, treatment depends primarily on his age, sex, general health and the cause of the disease. First, it is always necessary to focus on the treatment of diet and supplement the necessary amount of calcium and vitamin D and vitamin K . Patients should also choose appropriate exercise and exercise as recommended by their doctor.
Your doctor may also recommend anti-resorptive medicines to help slow or stop bone thinning. These products prevent excessive bone breakdown, contribute to the formation of new bone and significantly reduce the risk of fractures due to mild shocks. Bisphosphonates are most often used , but all drugs for osteoporosis must be taken regularly and for a long time (even several years).
A drug called Prolia is often used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. In some cases, doctors also focus on adjusting the amount of sex hormones in the patient’s body, because their sufficient level protects bone tissue from negative effects.
Osteoporosis and natural treatment
In addition to a proper diet and adequate exercise, patients should focus on adequate calcium intake . You can supplement it not only through medication, but also in a natural way. You can find it in these foods, for example:
- Milk and milk products
- Broccoli and cabbage
- Almonds, hazelnuts
- Sesame and sunflower seeds
- Poppy seeds
As for herbs, it is recommended, for example, nettle or horsetail tea . Various carrot, celery and lemon juices are also good. However, the treatment of osteoporosis should also be associated with a reduction in food consumption, which limits the absorption of calcium. These include animal protein, sweets and sugary drinks, coffee or white flour.
Exercises in osteoporosis
After consulting a physiotherapist or rehabilitation doctor, you can also fight osteoporosis with appropriate medical exercises . Exercise helps keep bones healthy and slows down bone loss. In addition, proper physical activity also benefits your muscles and heart.
The most important is self-weight training , in which the bones are loaded. Jogging, tennis, volleyball, dancing or other sports run in an “upright” position are suitable, but even seemingly ordinary walking can help. You can also try special exercises to endure and increase muscle strength, which must always be done slowly and regularly.
Prevention of osteoporosis
Appropriate prevention is regular exercise, a balanced diet and vitamin D supplementation using artificial preparations or in a natural way, on the contrary, avoid alcohol and cigarettes. If osteoporosis is suspected, you can also request a densitometric examination . If recommended by the attending physician, it is covered by the health insurance company, but the patient can pay for this examination himself.