What is Osteoporosis?

By Ehren Allen DPT, COMT

Osteoporosis Defined

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects the density and quality of  bone tissue. The word translates to “porous bone.” Decreased density leads to decreased strength in the bone. This increases the risk of a fracture.

Osteoporosis is a quiet and progressive disease that usually does not exhibit many symptoms until fractures occur, and the bone is examined. There are multiple causes for osteoporosis and also multiple ways to decrease its effects on one’s body.

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis

Bones develop in size and strength from birth until young adulthood. They usually peak in denseness in the early 20s. There is a process in our body that constantly occurs called remodeling. Remodeling consists of two stages:

  1. Resorption
  2. Formation

Resorption is when bone cells dissolve, and formation is when new bone material is deposited. For those with osteoporosis, the dissolving stage happens faster than the depositing of new bone material. This leaves the bones brittle and more prone to fractures. Multiple medical conditions can affect this remodeling progress making the effects of osteoporosis occur faster.

Some conditions are:

  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Digestive and gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Cancer.
  • Blood and bone marrow disorders.
  • Neurological/nervous system disorders.

Can Medications Increase the Risk of Osteoporosis?

Some medications can cause bone loss and speed up the process of this condition. One of the most common are steroid medications. While these medications are used for a  variety of disorders and pain, they can speed up bone loss.

Image of bone density in healtly bone, osteoporosis, and severe osteoporosis

Most Common Injuries from Osteoporosis

There are a few common fracture sites for people with osteoporosis. The risk for fracture increases with age in both women and men but is more common in women. Fractures from osteoporosis occur every 3 seconds around the world.

Common fracture sites with osteoporosis include:

  • Hip
  • Spine
  • Wrist

The most concerning of the fractures are the hip and spine fractures. Compression fractures in the spine can cause many other issues, including:

  • Back pain
  • Loss of height
  • Spinal deformities

Spinal Fractures may require Kyphoplasty to correct.

Hip Fractures can lead to a loss of independence and usually require surgery. Hip fractures typically require ORIF surgery.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

Lowering the risk of osteoporosis is a lifelong process. It comes from proper nutrition and regular exercise.  Eating protein and calcium can help with bone density. Protein is one of the main building blocks of bone. Those who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet can include plant based proteins to supplement their protein intake. Vitamin D is also important since it helps absorb calcium. The best source of Vitamin D is the sun, but, take the proper precautions to protect the skin.

A healthy body weight and good fitness can slow the progression of bone loss through life. This can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

If you need a physical therapy appointment for your spine, go to this article about the JOI Rehab Fast Track Spine Program. To make an appointment at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, call 904-858-7045.

Related Article: Does Milk Help Make Your Bones Stronger?

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You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

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