Osteoporosis, or “weak bones,” is a condition that develops over time when the formation of new bone just can’t keep up with the deterioration of fragile old bone. The bones don’t look any different, but they possess less substance, calcium and other materials leading to less strength and a greater chance of fracture.
So what are some of the symptoms to indicate you or a loved one may have osteoporosis?
- Back pain is a leading sign of potential osteoporosis, typically resulting in compression fractures in your spine’s vertebrae.
- A stooped posture is another indicator that you may have osteoporosis. According to the University of California San Francisco (USCF) Medical Center, if your vertebrae weaken over time, your posture will begin to stoop, often referred to as the “widow’s hump.”
- Easily fractured wrists or hips from simple falls are also red flags and a telltale sign that you may have osteoporosis
In addition to the more obvious symptoms above, there are early risk factors in both men and women that can eventually lead to osteoporosis. Activities like smoking tobacco, low calcium intake, alcoholism, inadequate exercise as well as having a low BMI, hereditary links and other illnesses/diseases – just to name a few – can all be early osteoporosis indicators.
Osteoporosis isn’t something easily seen. After all, your bones aren’t visible and neither is osteoporosis – even in basic x-rays. If you feel you might be at risk, the most effective way to test for osteoporosis is to visit the doctor for a bone density test. Thanks to breakthroughs in technology, there are several different scanning techniques including: dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), Ultrasound, Quantitative computerized tomography (QCT) and lateral radiographs.
There are a large variety of medications used to slow down or prevent further bone loss while increasing density for those with osteoporosis. Speak with your doctor to determine which treatment may be the best for your condition. For elderly women, hormone therapy is a viable prognosis option. The National Institutes of Health note that nutrition and exercise also play a significant role in the treatment and control of osteoporosis for both men and women. Calcium and Vitamin D are two of the most important nutrients for people battling osteoporosis as each helps strengthen bones. As for exercise, weight training can help not only boost bone strength but improve balance, posture and coordination – all supplemental aids to a healthier, stronger body. Unfortunately, once spine bones have collapsed, treatment cannot reverse the effect making it imperative to catch osteoporosis earlier, rather than later.
Anyone living with osteoporosis should look to make physical changes to their life and accommodations around their living space, particularly if it affects their balance or ability to walk. Things like installing rails in the bathroom, slip-resistant mats in the shower/bathtub, carpeting hardwood floors (or at least ensuring they aren’t slippery) can go a long way toward overall safety. Additionally, keeping the home clutter free is critical to creating safer home environment for your loved one with osteoporosis.
What sort of physical changes have you made to your or your loved one’s home? Tell us in the comments below.
For more information, please review our Osteoporosis Resources.