This familiar term has been heard and seen all around; in advertisements, hospital collaterals and perhaps in conversations when you discuss about the elderly.
Is it an inevitable fate for everyone who ages or can you prevent it?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose strength and density, hence becoming weaker. Brittle bones will fracture even in simple activities such as coughing or bending the body. This usually occurs silently and without obvious symptoms. As the condition worsens, you might feel pain in the bones or muscles and some may suffer from spinal compression fractures, and as a result you lose height and develop a hunched back.
Women who are 50 years old and above or having menopause have a higher risk of getting osteoporosis.
This can affect anyone but older women who are post-menopausal are at the highest risk. As we age, our body breaks down bone faster than it can replace it. The bone thus becomes less dense and more fragile. When women menopause, the reduction in estrogen also reduces bone density. Due to the smaller frame size that women have, they also have less bone mass to draw from. Therefore, both men and women lose bone when they get older, but women do so at a faster rate.
There are also a wide range of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of you developing Osteoporosis. This includes family history, thyroid problems, low calcium intake, eating disorders, gastrointestinal problems that affect calcium intake, long-term steroid medication or other medical conditions such as Celiac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Kidney or Liver Disease, Cancer and Rheumatoid Arthritis, just to name a few.
The most accurate way to diagnose Osteoporosis is to undergo a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Test. A BMD measures the amount of bone mineral you have and the screening is non-invasive. However, not everyone qualifies for a BMD. Usually, BMD is suitable for those aged above 65 years. A simple way to evaluate if you are eligible is to deduct your body weight from your age. If you arrive at a result less than zero (negative), you should do another test, called the Osteoporosis Self-Assessment Tool for Asians (OSTA) instead.
The OSTA also requires you to compare your age and weight. See image below.
If you have fallen and broken a bone, see a doctor immediately to have your fracture assessed. While some fractures are mild and will not require medical treatment, serious fractures will need the help of a cast to properly heal.
The best way is to increase bone health by taking foods or supplements rich calcium and vitamin D. Avoid high-phosphorus foods, such as red meats, soft drinks and those with phosphate food additives. Physiotherapy or exercise is also a good way to increase bone strength. To strengthen bones, try weight-bearing activities such as running, walking, weight-lifting or stair climbing.
Do not wait until it’s too late.
Whether or not you have Osteoporosis, it is wise to be mindful of your lifestyle choices that can keep this condition away.
Osteoporosis is not a natural occurrence in ageing and can be prevented.
Our pain specialists who has freed many people from the agony of daily pain, will conduct a thorough assessment to map out a journey to a pain-free future for you.