Osteoporosis means porous bones, a condition in which bones become thinner and weaker making them prone to fractures. It is an age-related disorder and seen in about more than 50% of people above the age of 50, with females being more prone than males. Osteoporosis makes the bones so brittle that even a mild fall causes them to break. Osteoporosis related fractures are most commonly seen in the hip, spine and wrist.

Like all tissues in the body, the bone also changes over time. The body removes damaged bone and replaces it with new bone every 7-10 years in adults. This bone remodeling is balanced up to the age of about 30 years. After that there is an imbalance and the body is unable to replace the old bone at the same pace. This leads to a loss of bone density that decreases the strength and quality of the bones. Other factors that can cause osteoporosis include genetics, poor nutrition, menopause, comorbidities and sedentary lifestyle.

  • Age
    Osteoporosis is common after the age of 50.
  • Gender
    Females are more prone to develop osteoporosis due to a drop in oestrogen levels during menopause.
  • Family history
    If anyone in the family has osteoporosis, it makes one more prone to developing it.
  • Medications
    Certain drugs like corticosteroids, heparin, thyroid medications, diuretics and aluminum containing antacids increase the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Comorbidities
    Presence of health conditions like cancer, hormonal disorders and autoimmune disorders increase the risk.
  • Nutritional deficiencies
    Low intake of calcium and protein and vitamin D deficiency.
  • Lifestyle choices
    Excessive smoking, alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle.

A diagnosis of osteoporosis is made based on a medical examination, history – past and family, and the presence of any other conditions that can lead to it. The diagnosis is confirmed by a test called as bone mineral density scan. This scanning uses a type of X-ray known as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The results of this scan are given as a T score or a Z score which helps in comparing the bone mass.

Recent advances in treatment not only prevents bone loss but also promotes formation of new bone. This combined with lifestyle modifications and medications can help prevent Osteoporosis.

  • Diet modification
    Include calcium rich foods like dairy products, green leafy vegetables, fish and fortified cereals.
  • Supplements
    Take Vitamin D supplement as it improves calcium absorption.
  • Lifestyle modifications
    Reduce or quit smoking and alcohol consumption and exercise regularly.
  • Other health conditions
    Control diabetes and high blood pressure. Start hormone replacement therapy after menopause.
  • Fall prevention
    Remove all trip hazards, install grab bars in the bathroom, practice balancing exercises and get regular vision checkup to prevent falls and fractures in people with osteoporosis.