Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone diseases and is characterised by bone loss. It primarily affects women after menopause. However, men can also develop osteoporosis at an advanced age.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis involves bone loss, which makes bones more susceptible to fracture.
It can also lead to a collapse of the vertebrae 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. Ongoing bone loss and bone formation are 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 woman and every fifth man at the age of 65 years to suffer from osteoporosis.
Besides age-related osteoporosis, the risk factors also include vitamin D deficiency and calcium deficiency. Long-term drug treatment (e.g. with cortisone) can also cause the disease.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
Bone loss develops slowly over years and causes no symptoms at all for a long time. Bone 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.
The disease affects the whole skeleton. Bone 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 which measures bone density.
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. Bisphosphonate drugs are also used to treat osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates are a group of medications which slow down bone loss.
The following measures can be taken to prevent the disease:
- A healthy diet containing sufficient calcium and vitamin D.
- A sufficient amount of regular exercise stimulates bone formation.
The earlier 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.osis later on in life.