The human body is truly amazing. Every single second of every single day, it is hard at work, undergoing processes that we don’t even realize are happening inside of us. One of these such processes is the absorption and replacement of bone tissues. The body is constantly saying “out with the old and in with the new.” But what happens when the creation of new bone tissue can’t keep up with the absorption of old bone tissue? Well, the result is a condition called osteoporosis.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a very common medical condition where the bones become fragile and brittle, losing mass which causes them to become weaker than normal. Over 3 million Americans find themselves facing this diagnosis per year. Men and women of all ages and races can be affected, but the condition is most common in white and Asian women, particularly if they are post-menopausal. According to studies, approximately half of women and a quarter of men over the age of 50 will sustain a broken bone due to the condition.
The literal translation of the word osteoporosis is “porous bone”, because a healthy bone is shaped like a honeycomb when viewed underneath a microscope. However, bones that are osteoporotic have honeycombs that are way larger than they are in a healthy bone. This loss of bone density causes the bones to become much weaker than normal. In some extreme cases, the bones can become so brittle that even a sneeze or minor bump can cause a fracture.
What are the causes and symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is usually called a “silent disease”, since it seems to sneak up quietly on people. Since you cannot feel your bones weakening inside of you, the first symptom for most people is a broken bone. Occasionally, a stooped or hunched posture, back pain, low calcium or Vitamin D levels, and/or height loss can also be indicators that osteoporosis is setting in.
There are also certain diseases and medical conditions which can increase the likelihood of osteoporosis. These can include (but are not limited to):
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Eating disorders
This list is just a few examples that may contribute to bone loss. Certain medications may also be factors. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to see if any specific condition you have or medication you take can cause bone loss.
What treatment options are available?
Luckily, osteoporosis is a treatable condition. Individuals who are at risk of developing the condition might be advised to supplement with calcium and Vitamin D supplements daily, as well as to engage in a low-impact exercise, such as walking, several times a week. There are also medications that can be prescribed to stop bone loss and aid in building bone back. Give Dr. Brionez at Advanced Rheumatology of Houston a call today at 281-766-7886 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Brionez is considered a leading specialist in managing complex conditions, including osteoporosis. She is fluent in both English and Spanish and has a diverse staff to better meet the needs of every patient who walks through her doors.