Health Concerns - Osteoporosis

osteoporosis

WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that decreases bone mass and density, reduces muscle mass and strength, impairs mobility and neuro-muscular coordination and in most cases leads to falls and fractures.

Globally, osteoporosis ranks as the second most commonhealth affliction, right after coronary heart disease. Accordingto the World Health Organization (WHO), the total number of patients worldwide is set to double over the next two decades.

In India, osteoporosis affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men typically above the age of 35 years. The total number of sufferers is estimated at 36 million - more than a quarter of the population - and with little awareness of the disease and of itsprevention and treatment, osteoporosis has come to be considered a 'silent' epidemic.

WHAT CAUSES OSTEOPOROSIS?

While in some cases osteoporosis is a hereditary condition, the leading causes of the disease are a sedentary life-style and an imbalanced diet.

Little or no exercise:

A lack of physical activity can result in up to 1% bone loss per month in the human body. Weight-bearing workouts and strength training are most effective at increasing or maintaining Bone Mass Density and significantly prevent falls, the most common cause of hip and wrist fractures - in elderly people.

Bone degeneration:

A medical study that investigated the effect of a vigorous two-yearstrength and endurance program in early post-menopausal women with osteopenia concluded that Bone Mass Density increased significantly (by 1.3%) at the lumbarspine for the exercise group and decreased (by 1.2%) for the control group

Poor Diet & Nutrition:

Indians are found to have high deficiencies of vitamin Dand calcium, both of which are necessary for healthy bones. Osteoporosis is also often brought on by irregular eating patterns and/or crash diets, a low consumption of fruit and vegetables and an excessive intake of sodium and caffeine.

Smoking and alcohol can also significantlycontribute to the development of osteoporosis, particularly in women.

OTHER FACTORS

  • History of bone fractures or bone fragility.
  • Prolonged corticosteroid treatment.
  • Liver or thyroid disease.
  • Acidosis (an excess of acids in the body).
  • Hormonal imbalances (low estrogen in women, low testosterone in men), as alsohysterectomies or premature menopause in women. Medication for pre-menopausal women often causes bone loss, a condition known as Secondary Osteoporosis.
  • A Body Mass Index of less than 19 kg/m2 or more than 25 kg/m2

WHAT ARE THE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF OSTEOPOROSIS?

  • Frequent back, neck, leg and wrist pain
  • Stooped or slouched posture
  • Shallow breathing
  • Fragile bones, or bones that are easily fractured after a fall

A common misconception is that osteoporosis primarily affects the elderly. People in the age group of 18 to 25 years develop their bone mass (also known as Peak Bone Mass).Those with low Peak Bone Mass are subsequently more prone to developing osteoporosis during mid life and women are particularly affected during menopause.

So it's never too early or too late to get tested for Bone Mass Density. While a healthy lifestyle can significantly prevent osteoporosis from occurring at any age, there are also a number of non-surgical and non-invasive therapies for patients of the disease.