Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones become fragile and have an increased susceptibility to fracture. And it is more common than you may think. In fact, about 54 million Americans have low bone mass, which places them at risk for osteoporosis1. The disease affects more than 2 million people a year in the U.S. and is most common among the elderly1.
What exactly is the disease?
The disease happens when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. This means that the bones begin to lose their mass1. When this happens, bones become weak and can break from a simple fall, a minor bump, or in some severe cases, from a sneeze1. Studies have found that due to osteoporosis:
- One in two women will break a bone, and
- Up to one in four men, age 50 and older, will break a bone1
The most commonly broken bones the hip, the spine, and the wrist, but any bone can be subject to fracture1.
What are the symptoms?
It is hard to know if there are symptoms of osteoporosis until a fracture takes place2. However, there are occasional symptoms of the disease which include:
- Weakening of the bones
- Backaches or sudden severe pain
- Weight loss, and
- Limited mobility2.
If osteoporosis affects the vertebrae or spine, a hunched posture can be a symptom1.
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosing osteoporosis typically requires the patient to undergo x-rays that show bone density. The x-rays which can then be interpreted and diagnosed by a doctor3.
Treatment for osteoporosis can be costly. By 2025, experts say osteoporosis will be the cause of around 3 million fractures every year with $25.3 billion in costs1. Even though the majority of those costs are projected to be from medical services, medications, and doctor’s time, there are additional cheaper treatment options for osteoporosis3:
- Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes
- Regular and adequate exercise
- High intake of calcium
- Foods with vitamin D
These options can help strengthen your bones and keep them from weakening. In addition to these treatment options, osteoporosis prescription medications can help treat the disease2.
The recommendations above can also help prevent osteoporosis. Even though genetics play a role in the chances of osteoporosis, a healthy diet is a great way to prevent bone diseases. And in this case, a good diet will help strengthen your bones2.
1- What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It? (n.d.). Retrieved February 03, 2017, from https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/
2- Understanding Osteoporosis Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 03, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/understanding-osteoporosis-symptoms
3- Shiel, W. C., Jr. (n.d.). Osteoporosis Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment & Diet. Retrieved February 03, 2017, from http://www.medicinenet.com/osteoporosis/article.htm.