Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the bone tissue. This process of bone thinning leads to an increase in bone fragility and the consequent risk of fracture.
The hip, spine and wrists are the most common areas of osteoporosis-related bone fractures, though these can actually occur almost anywhere in the skeleton.
Osteoporosis runs a major risk of passing by undiagnosed as it can progress painlessly until a bone actually breaks. In fact, due to this, osteoporosis is often referred to as the ‘silent thief’, lacking any obvious signs of onset.
Incidence and Prevalence
Research indicates that women over the age of 50 are four times likely to develop osteoporosis as compared to men. On the other hand, one in eight men over 50 is vulnerable to this disease.
Studies also reveal that a whopping 1.4 million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis. Survey figures reveal that there were approximately 25,000 hip fractures in Canada in 1993, with seventy percent of them being osteoporosis-related.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
There are certain measures that can be adopted to prevent osteoporosis. Here we briefly explain a few of them:
A) Exercise and Lifestyle
Maintaining a daily regimen of exercises including walking and aerobic activity can go a long way in strengthening bones. Besides, smoking and alcohol consumption should be kept within limits to prevent osteoporosis.
A diet rich in calcium is essential throughout life for healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. Per day, consumption of a minimum 800mg of calcium is recommended for adults to fulfill the nutritional requirements.
For those with a poor dietary intake, additional calcium supplements are indicated.
Besides, diagnostic measures such as the bone density scans have also proven to be quite result-oriented in recent years.
Of all the fractures possible due to osteoporosis, those of hip and spine are the most traumatic. While a hip fracture usually requires hospitalization and major surgery, spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences such as loss of height, severe back pain and deformity.
We list here a few of the main treatment options followed for osteoporosis, either alone or in combination with each other:
1) Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Studies indicate that the hormone oestrogen protects bone strength. With age, there is a fall in the oestrogen levels in women. The HRT replaces oestrogen and hence reduces the rate of bone loss.
2) Bisphosphonates: This group of medicines slows the rate at which the bone is dissolved, this supporting a build-up in bone strength. Examples include Fosamax, Didronel PMO, Actonel and Bonviva.
3) Strontium Ranelate (Protelos): This is a particular treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
4) Raloxifene (Evista): This particular medicine is used for prevention as well as treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
Other specialized forms of treatments include calcitonin, calcitriol, teriparatide and the usage of hip protectors.
Whatever the line of treatment, experts strongly advocate the need for compliance and consistency in taking the prescribed medication or treatment.
The reason being, that the osteoporosis prevention and cure remedies follow a long course of time, across a number of years to reflect the desired results.