A 65-year-old woman well past her menopausal period, was experiencing back pain. She developed a stooped posture over a period time. On consulting the doctor, diagnostic tests were conducted which revealed a broken vertebra that was causing the severe back pain. It was a clear case of osteoporosis.
There are a few symptoms of osteoporosis. They are:
Women who have crossed their menopausal stage should be aware of osteoporosis and its debilitating effects. By taking the necessary precautionary steps, one can strengthen the bones considerably.
To keep bones strong and keep osteoporosis away, one must exercise regularly. Strength training exercises help in strengthening the muscles and bones of the upper spine and arms, whereas weight bearing exercises like jogging, stair climbing, skipping rope, walking and sports activities help in making the bones strong. The diet should contain at least 1000mg of calcium per day.Smoking should be strictly avoided as it decreases estrogen production in women which leads to bone loss.
Taking more than two alcoholic beverages decreases bone formation considerably.
To check the bone density, a screening test known as dual X ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is done which checks the density of bones in the wrist, spine and hip. Other tests that help in measuring bone density are single photon absorptiometry, quantitative computerized tomography and ultrasound.
Calcium required by women before menopause is 1000mg of calcium per day. After menopause, if the woman is not taking estrogen, then calcium needed per day is 1500mg; while taking estrogen, it is 1000mg per day. Food sources that are rich in calcium include yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach, broccoli, pink salmon and dried beans. Vitamin D helps in absorption of calcium in the body. Hence, food sources rich in vitamin D should be taken like fish oils, saltwater fish, egg yolks, liver, and fortified milk.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which, due to loss of calcium, the bones become porous. This causes bone weakness and leads to breakage of bones in the course of time. It has been observed that osteoporosis occurs more in women, especially after menopause.
In the human body there is continuous remodeling of the bone which involves new bone being made and old bone lost. The bone mass increases when one is young as the amount of bone made is more than the amount of bone lost.
The peak bone mass is reached around 30 years of age. After which one starts losing bone more than one makes bone. After menopause or surgical removal of ovaries, the estrogen levels in women fall drastically which speeds up bone loss leading to osteoporosis.
The other risk factors of osteoporosis include
Osteoporosis can manifest as severe back pain due to a fractured vertebra. There can be fractures in bones of the hip and wrist as well. The posture of the affected person is stooped and there is loss of height in time.
There are medications for the treatment of osteoporosis.Biphosphonates: The biphosphonates help in increasing the density of bones in the spine and the hip, and help reduce the risk of bone fractures. They are taken in the form of intravenous injection or in the form of oral pills. People who have low calcium levels in blood, pregnant women, and people who are having kidney disease cannot take the biphosphonates. The side effects that can occur due to biphosphonates include esophageal irritation, vision problems, irregular heartbeats, osteonecrosis of jaw (bone loss in jaw), abdominal pain, and nausea.