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Osteoporosis FAQs

Define the term osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means pores or holes in the bone, resulting in decreased density and bone strength making them more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis can affect all bones of your body however the commonly affected areas are spine, wrist, and hip. Osteoporosis can be prevented in a majority of cases, simply by following a healthy lifestyle to develop strong bones.

How frequent is the development of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is considered as a major health problem worldwide causing fractures in elderly people. It is estimated that about 44 million Americans or over half of the elder people above 50 years are affected by this condition. Osteoporosis is equally seen in both men and women.

Can osteoporosis be related to normal aging process?

Osteoporosis is not related with the aging process. It is generally due to lack of adequate diet deficient in calcium and vitamin D. Hence, early diagnosis of osteoporosis can be treated successfully.

What is the procedure for diagnosis of osteoporosis?

There is a specific test called a bone mineral density (BMD) test for the diagnosis of osteoporosis. The results of this test are depicted in T-scores, to identify weather bone mass is normal or below normal. When the T-score is -2.5 or below it indicates osteoporosis. The lower the value of the T-score the greater are the chances of fracture. Osteoporosis can also be diagnosed through the presence of a fracture condition; if a fracture occurs due to minor injuries, after age of 50 years, this indicates osteoporosis.

What does a person go through after a fracture?

Fracture is always associated with pain and discomfort. Based on the location and severity of the fracture, the person may face different complications. Fracture of the spine is called vertebral fracture and results in loss of height, abnormal curvature in shoulder or back and usually back pain. Vertebral fractures can also cause breathing problems, stomach pain and digestive discomfort. Other fractures such as wrist, arm, leg, pelvis, or ribs, may cause severe pain and causal disability. In such fractures, surgery, casting, or splinting is usually recommended.

Hip fracture is considered as one of the most dreadful fractures and is usually seen in adults over 70 years of age. Hip fracture results in total dependence of the patient; as help is required even for performing daily routine activities such as bathing and dressing. Usually surgery is recommended for hip fracture which holds the possibility of severe complications. After surgery, the patient requires skilled nursing care for a specific duration.

How can one prevent osteoporosis and breakage of bones?

For preventing the development of osteoporosis and fractures, it is important to follow these instructions:

  • Eat a healthy nutritional diet including fruits and vegetables
  • Intake adequate calcium (1000-1200 mg) daily in your diet. The food products rich in calcium are low fat dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark green leafy vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens), canned fish (sardines, salmon) eaten with bones, or calcium-fortified (with calcium added) foods.
  • Have the recommended amount of vitamin D in your diet. Natural sources of vitamin D are fatty fish such as catfish, eel, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna. Small amounts of vitamin D are added to all cows’ milk and some types of almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, soy milk, yogurt, cheese, juice, and nutrition bars.
  • Participate in regular physical exercise.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Regularly consult your health care provider regarding your bone health and if required undergo a bone mineral density (BMD) test.