Understanding Osteoporosis

December 12th, 2019 Becki Andrus

It has been estimated that around 80% of people in the U.S. will be confronted by some form of back pain in their lives. This is a common problem, and anyone who has experienced this discomfort is well aware that the effects can be extremely debilitating.

It is responsible for causing individuals to miss 264 million days of work each year. That equates to two days for every worker in the U.S. It is also the third most frequent reason for visits to the doctor.    

Some forms of back pain have more intensity than others, and there are various multiple reasons why back pain can emerge. These causes range anywhere from sprains, strains, and infections, to kidney stones, ruptured or bulging discs, and arthritis. In some cases, back pain develops as a result of osteoporosis.  

Defining Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that impacts both the density and quality of the bones. It results in a gradual loss of bone as time advances, which can make anyone who is experiencing this condition suspectable to suffering a fracture.

In fact, the word osteoporosis actually means porous bone. The process of deterioration occurs as the spaces and holes in the bones weaken and create abnormal tissue. This also makes anyone who is confronted with his condition become far more vulnerable for a break. This is particularly true for anyone who is 50 years of age or older.

Osteoporosis Stats

The numbers underscore the importance of this health issue, as it is responsible for nearly 9 million fractures on an annual basis throughout the world. This equates to one fracture every 3 seconds.  

This disease also affects 10 million individuals in the U.S., while an additional 44 million are dealing with a low bone density.  Specifically, one in every two women and one out of every four men who have reached age 50 are increasingly vulnerable toward experiencing a fracture as the result of osteoporosis.

In many cases, this injury occurs with the hip, spine, wrist, arm, or leg as a result of a fall. It has been estimated that two million bones will be broken on an annual basis due to osteoporosis.   

This is a consequence of the aging process, as we all encounter a decrease in our bodies’ ability to build new bone. This reduction in bone mass will continue as we progress with aging. Some fractures will require individuals to stop living independently for an extended period of time. A decrease of 10% in bone mass within the vertebrae will also double the risk of a fracture in that area.

Causes Of Osteoporosis

In addition to aging, genetics can also be a factor in any risk of osteoporosis. This is particularly true for anyone with a family history of fractures or slim bodies.

Lifestyle is also a factor as it is essential to avoid prolonged sitting on a regular basis. In addition to maintaining a regular exercise regimen, nutrition will also play a role in determining the risk of osteoporosis. A diet that is too low in calcium is just one example of poor nutrition that will place you at increased risk. Certain medications such as steroids can also raise the potential for osteoporosis. This is also the case for smoking and excessive use of alcohol.

Symptoms Of Osteoporosis

During the initial stages of osteoporosis, there are usually no indication that it has developed. Once this condition has progressed, back pain can emerge, and a stooped posture can be noticeable. Even a simple trigger such as coughing can cause a bone to break once osteoporosis has fully developed.

The risk of contending with osteoporosis also increases for people who are already experiencing other medical issues. These include kidney or liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and cancer.

Steps To Prevent Osteoporosis

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of this disease. First, you can benefit from including a sufficient level of calcium in your diet. This is logical since the body loses calcium on a daily basis. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt provide an outstanding source of calcium. Green vegetables, and sardines, are other examples of foods that are rich in calcium.

It is also important to consume Vitamin D because it boosts your body’s ability to absorb calcium. The need for regular exercise was briefly mentioned earlier, and this is essential regardless of your age. Regular activity also provides numerous health benefits. That includes the ability to diminish the process of bone loss if you exercise consistently.

It is also highly recommended that smoking and excessive use of alcohol also be avoided, as this will also assist in reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

When To See A Physician

If you are concerned about the possibility of osteoporosis, you should contact your physician. This is especially true if you are at least 50 years of age, female, small in frame, or have a family history of this condition. This also applies to anyone who is has taken steroids for an extended period of time, anyone who has rheumatoid arthritis, or anyone who smokes. 

Treatment For Osteoporosis

Your physician can determine whether you are contending with osteoporosis during an examination. He or she will have a series of questions that include your medical history, along with background about the specifics surrounding your pain. Your physician might order x-rays, MRIs, ultrasound. bone scans, and blood tests toward determining whether osteoporosis is the source of your pain.  

If the diagnosis is osteoporosis, then the form of treatment will be designed to reduce any additional bone loss. This often involves a combination of nutrition, proper exercise, physical therapy, and (possibly) medications.

At Orthopedic Associates, We Are Here To Help

If you are concerned that you might be experiencing osteoporosis, or if you have any questions about discomfort, illness, or an injury that is limiting your ability to remain involved in physical activity, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates want to provide our expertise.

With eight board-certified physicians and two board-eligible physicians in orthopedic specialties, our doctors have been practicing medicine for a combined total of 183 years. This helps Orthopedic Associates offer a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical therapy, our state-of-the-art technology, and an on-site surgical center.

We also encourage you to consult one of our neck and spine doctors if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Hard, knotted muscles in your neck or shoulders
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain
  • Tightness in the general neck-and-shoulder area
  • Stiffness as you go to look over your left or right shoulders
  • Headaches originating from the base of your skull and continuing to the front of your forehead

Our specialists also provide on-call availability, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can treat these additional neck conditions:

  • Anatomy of the Spine
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Coccydynia
  • Compression Fracture of the Spine
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Facet Joint Syndrome
  • Herniated Disc(s) (Cervical)
  • Kyphosis
  • Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
  • Metastatic Cancer of the Spine
  • Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
  • Myelopathy
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Post-Laminectomy Syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal Epidural Abscess
  • Spinal Infection
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylosis
  • Where Lower Back Pain Begins
  • Where Neck Pain Begins

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