Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone diseases and is characterised by bone loss. Bone loss primarily affects women after menopause. However, men can also develop osteoporosis at an advanced age. Bone loss makes bones more susceptible to fractures, which result in a collapse of the vertebral body in the spine, This can in turn cause the spine to change in shape and a reduction in body height as a result.
Bones constantly renew themselves throughout our lives. The ongoing bone loss and bone formation is controlled by hormones. From around the age of 40, hormonal changes in old age lead to increased bone loss, which is more prevalent in women than in men. This causes every third women and every fifth man at the age of 65 years to suffer from osteoporosis. Besides age-related osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency, calcium deficiency or long-term medical treatment with cortisone, for example, can cause osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis develops slowly over years and causes no symptoms at all for a long time. Bones loss causes the bones to become porous, unstable and susceptible to fractures. Therefore a fracture is often the first symptom of osteoporosis. The bones typically break even if there is only minor external force, or even spontaneously. Osteoporosis affects the whole skeleton. Fractures occur particularly frequently in the femoral neck in the event of minor falls. The spine is also often affected by malformations of the spine resulting in a hunched back, hump formation and back pain.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed with special x-ray imaging, in which the density of the bone is measured.
Different medications which promote bone formation or slow down bone loss are used to treat osteoporosis. Substances which facilitate bone formation include vitamin D and Calcium. Biophosphonates are a group of medications which slow down bone loss.
You can prevent osteoporosis with a healthy diet containing sufficient calcium and vitamin D. A sufficient amount of regular exercise stimulates bone formation. The earlier that you begin with preventive measures, the better. The more bone substance that you build up in your youth, the smaller the risk is of falling ill with osteoporosis later on in life.