Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones that can make the bones susceptible to breaking. Osteoporosis itself is not painful and does not produce any symptoms until a bone breaks, making it one of the “silent diseases.” Bones can become weak as we age, especially in women or in patients with osteoporosis risk factors. It effects the entire skeleton, however, in the spine it can lead to vertebral compression fractures; a break in the vertebra of the spine that causes it to compress and lose height.
Osteoporosis is generally diagnosed with a DXA scan (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry). This is a low-dose radiation scan that tells the density of the bone. However, only available on some DXA scanners, these scans can also measure TBS (trabecular bone score) which tells the quality of the architecture of the bone; another very important aspect of the health of bone. It is very important that patients seek a bone health specialist if they suspect osteoporosis, in order to discuss treatment options that can halt or slow down the bone thinning process.
If a compression fracture occurs, this can be very painful. Once you have one compression
fracture, you are at high risk of developing another. Compression fractures often are treated with specialized bracing and osteoporosis medications. Rarely, compression fractures can be severe enough that they require surgical treatment. This should be discussed with a medical
As you get older, your bones may get weaker. This is called “osteoporosis.” Weak bones are more likely to break. Osteoporosis can be a problem for anyone, but it is more common in women.
Your body is always rebuilding your bones. When bone cells get old, they break down and get replaced. But as you age, your body can’t keep up. Old bone breaks down faster than it can be replaced. Your bones gradually lose some of their strength. If they get too weak, you are said to have osteoporosis.
Older women have the greatest risk for this. Your risk is higher if you are white or Asian, and if you are small. Osteoporosis can run in families. Smokers, heavy drinkers and people who are not active have a higher risk. Your risk is higher if you don’t eat enough foods with calcium, and if you have certain digestive disorders. You also have a higher risk if you have problems with your hormones, or if you take certain medications.
Osteoporosis can cause your back to hurt. Your back may begin to curve forward. You may get shorter. And you may break a bone easily, even by coughing or bending over.
Treatment depends on your needs. Medications can help keep your bones from getting any weaker. You may also benefit from a healthier lifestyle. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.