What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Usually, osteoporosis does not cause any symptoms at first. Osteoporosis is often called the "silent" disease, because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People often don't know they have the disease until a bone breaks, frequently in a minor fall that wouldn't normally cause a fracture. Many people confuse osteoporosis with arthritis and believe they can wait for symptoms such as swelling and joint pain to occur before seeing a doctor. It should be stressed that the mechanisms
that cause arthritis are entirely different from those in osteoporosis, which usually becomes quite advanced before its symptoms appear.
All too often osteoporosis becomes apparent in dramatic fashion: a fracture of a vertebra (back bone), hip, forearm, or any bony site if sufficient bone mass is lost. These fractures frequently occur after apparently minor trauma, such as bending over, lifting, jumping, or falling from the standing position. A common occurrence is compression fractures of the spine. These can happen even after a seemingly normal activity, such as bending or twisting to pick up a light object. The fractures can cause severe back pain, but sometimes they go unnoticed--either way, the vertebrae collapse down on themselves, and the person actually loses height. The hunchback appearance of many elderly women, sometimes called "dowager's" hump or "widow's" hump, is due to this effect of osteoporosis on the vertebrae.
Some people lose height and become stooped with a bent back, called a dowager's hump (kyphosis). These changes may occur because the bones of the spine (vertebrae) gradually collapse within themselves and become squashed (compressed). This type of fracture is called a compression or crush fracture. People with osteoporosis may break other bones, particularly the hip and wrist. Hip and wrist fractures often occur after a fall. A broken hip is especially serious. It can lead to loss of independence and function and to serious, even life-threatening problems. However, all broken bones in people with osteoporosis are serious, because bones that are less dense tend to heal slowly and sometimes incompletely. Also, if people with osteoporosis break one bone, they tend to break other bones.
Patients with uncomplicated osteoporosis may be asymptomatic or may have pain in the bones or muscles, particularly of the back. Vertebral crush fractures may develop with minimal or no trauma, usually in weight-bearing vertebrae (T-8 and below); isolated fractures of T-4 or above suggest malignancy. When symptomatic, the pain is of acute onset, usually does not radiate, is aggravated by weight bearing, may be associated with local tenderness, and generally begins to subside in 1 wk. However, residual pain may last >= 3 mo. Multiple compression fractures eventually may cause dorsal kyphosis with exaggerated cervical lordosis (dowager's hump). Abnormal stress on the spinal muscles and ligaments may cause chronic, dull, aching pain, particularly prominent in the lower thoracic and lumbar area. Fractures at other sites, commonly the hip or distal radius, usually result from a fall.
In the latter stages of the disease, pain, disfigurement, and debilitation are common. Early spinal compression fractures may go undetected for a long time, but after a large percentage of calcium has been lost, the vertebrae in the spine start to collapse, gradually causing a stooped posture called kyphosis, or a "dowager's hump." Although this is usually painless, patients may lose as much as 6 inches in height.
More information on osteoporosis
What is osteoporosis? - Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones, usually associated with the aging process. Osteoporosis is a disease, often with no detectable symptoms.
Building and maintaining skeletal health - Factors involved in building and maintaining skeletal health are adequate nutrition and body weight, exposure to sex hormones at puberty, and physical activity.
What types of osteoporosis are there? - Osteoporosis can be classified in various ways based on diagnostic categories, etiology. Osteoporosis can be classified as either primary osteoporosis or secondary osteoporosis.
What causes osteoporosis? - Osteoporosis is related to the loss of bone mass that occurs as part of the natural process of aging. Osteoporosis results when there is excess bone loss without adequate replacement.
What are the risk factors for osteoporosis? - Many disorders are associated with increased risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is far more prevalent in women after menopause due to the loss of the hormone estrogen.
What're the risk factors for primary osteoporosis? - Risk factors for primary osteoporosis include age, gender, race, figure type, lifestyle, diet, and lack of sunlight.
What're the risk factors for secondary osteoporosis? - Risk factors for secondary osteoporosis include genetic disorders, hypogonadal states, endocrine disorders,hematologic disorders, nutritional deficiencies, drugs.
What are the consequences of osteoporosis? - Consequences due to osteoporosis are increased risk of fracture with minor trauma, frequency of traumatic events from lifting and bending impact.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis? - Patients with uncomplicated osteoporosis may be asymptomatic or may have pain in the bones or muscles, particularly of the back. Osteoporosis becomes apparent in dramatic fashion.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed? - The diagnosis of osteoporosis is usually made by your doctor using a combination of a complete medical history and physical examination.
What're the treatments for osteoporosis? - Treatment for osteoporosis includes eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, getting regular exercise, and taking medication to reduce bone loss and increase bone thickness.
What osteoporosis medications (drugs) are available? - Medications (drugs) to cure osteoporosis include bisphosphanates (Fosamax), calcitonin (Miacalcin), raloxifene, estrogen, and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
How to treat osteoporosis in men? - Alendronate and teriparatide have been approved to treat osteoporosis in men. Calcitonin may work in men, treatment with testosterone appears to increase bone density.
How to treat osteoporosis in women? - The non-hormonal bisphosphonate drugs, alendronate and risedronate prevent and treat postmenopausal osteoporosis. Raloxifene is approved for preventing and treating osteoporosis.
What lifestyle changes can help osteoporosis? - Alcohol consumption should also be kept within safe limits. Supplements of calcium plus vitamin D may help maintain bone density. Limiting sodium and avoiding junk food.
What osteoporosis exercises are suggested? - Exercise is very important for slowing the progression of osteoporosis. Taking regular exercise is the single most important action improve the strength of their bones.
What osteoporosis diet is suggested? - A good calcium intake is essential throughout life for healthy bones. Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Reducing salt may be useful for osteoporosis patients.
What can be done to prevent osteoporosis? - For prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, patients should be encouraged to stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption and perform weight-bearing exercise.
Osteoporosis and calcium - Calcium could alter the physical-chemical properties of the bone mineral. The daily recommended dietary calcium intake varies by age, sex, and menopausal status.
Osteoporosis and magnesium - Magnesium supplementation is as important as calcium supplementation in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis and vitamin D - Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract and is the essential companion to calcium in maintaining strong bones to prevent osteoporosis.