Osteoporosis is popularly known as silent bone disease, which makes bones weak and prone to fractures. Often, osteoporosis develops without any symptoms or pain, and it is discovered at a late stage when it causes painful fractures. Some of the common places where fractures occur in osteoporosis patients include the spine, wrist, shoulder, and hips.
Around the world, it has been estimated that more than 200 million people suffer from varying degrees of osteoporosis. According to a survey from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, global osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in a fracture every three seconds.
India is home to more than 1.3 billion people, with approximately 230 million Indians over 50 years. Considering the current Indian population, the number of hip fractures yearly would be more than 440,000. The ratio of female to male fractures is about 3:1, with a projected incidence of more than 600,000 in 2020 and over one million in 2050. Another worrying situation in India is that awareness about osteoporosis and its treatment methodology is deficient in the country, with surveys indicating that only 10–15 percent of Indians are aware of the disease.
So, what symptoms should high-risk patients look for, especially as they age? While early detectable signs of bone loss are rare, especially when they have not suffered from any fractures, some common signs and symptoms can include:
In postmenopausal women, the overall bone density decreases, which may go hand in hand with weakening muscles resulting in poor hand grip strength. Poor muscle strength also puts them at higher risk for falls and fractures.
If the jaw in the mouth begins to lose bones, it can cause the gums to recede. While regular dentist check-ups are highly recommended for everyone, people who are above 45 should be screened for bone loss in the jaw by the dentist as well.
Bone health is directly related to nail strength. However, sometimes nails can be damaged by other factors.
Once the bone mass has deteriorated further, a person may begin to experience symptoms, including loss of height (progressive compression fractures of the bones in the spine can lead a person to become shorter), fractures (a sign of fragile bones), and back pain due to a subtle vertebral fracture which may not be evident on a routine x-ray.
How can men protect themselves and lower their risk of osteoporosis? Here are some strategies:
Studies have shown that low calcium intake is associated with low bone mass and higher fracture rates. Vitamin D is needed to help absorb calcium in the body, so you need adequate amounts of each.
Some of the best sources of calcium include tofu, spinach, greens (collard, turnip, mustard, and kale), and dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk. High amounts of vitamin D are found in salmon, sardines, tuna, milk, and mushrooms. If you have a deficiency or have trouble consuming these foods, you may need daily supplements. Consult our dietician today for more details.
Regular weight-bearing exercise, such as dancing, aerobic classes, running, stair climbing, and power walking, helps to stimulate bone formation.
Certain drugs can raise the risk of osteoporosis in men, too. Consult our doctors about your dosage and how they may influence your risk of osteoporosis.
Low testosterone levels are associated with osteoporosis in men. However, research is ongoing on what impact, if any, replacement therapy has on improving bone-building.
Both smoking and heavy alcohol drinking raise the risk of osteoporosis in men. Limit alcohol intake and avoid smoking to minimize the risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is an evolving disease, and the best policy is prevention. However, once a patient gets affected by the condition, treatment options can slow the bone loss effectively and build up bone mass, though to a limited degree. It is critical to treat osteoporosis early on as it can provide the best possible outcomes and helps prevent severe consequences like fractures.
Fortis Hospital Mumbai specializes in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. In addition to optimizing nutrition, exercise, and medical intervention, the osteoporosis clinic uses a comprehensive approach. For appointments call: 022 4925 4925
In conclusion, osteoporosis can cause severe pain and disability. As mentioned before, early diagnosis and management can slow down the inevitable effects of the diseases. However, if a person has a family history of the condition, they should consult a specialist soon.