Although osteoporosis can result in a chronic lessening of the density of bones, it is also a preventable and treatable disease. Learning about the causes of the disease and the treatment options can allow many patients to find relief from the symptoms while actively making lifestyle changes that can halt the progression of the illness.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is essentially a condition in which the bones become porous and brittle. This can lead to larger health concerns such as fractures and breaks, as well as back and joint pains that result from the inability of the skeletal system to support the body’s weight. Although women tend to be at a higher risk for this condition than men, it is not considered a gender specific disease.
Although bones are highly dense compared to other tissues in the body, they are still in constant change, with new cells forming to replace old ones. In cases of osteoporosis, the new bone cells are not being generated at the same rate as the old cells are being removed, and this creates the weakness and pockets in the skeletal system.
The simplest way to prevent osteoporosis is to maintain bone density. This can be done through both nutritional and physical interventions. Supplementation through calcium and vitamin D are the most common recommendations that a personal pharmacist will make to a patient, although physicians can also guide patients through nutritional lifestyle changes. This can also include avoiding foods that are high in oxalic acid, since this chemical will leach calcium from the tissues.
Another preventive measure is to engage in weight bearing exercises, since these encourage bone growth and density. This can include low impact strength training, with free weights or resistance bands, to encourage healthy bone growth throughout the body.
Does Eating Excess Meat Cause Osteoporosis?
While meat consumption itself is not a specific cause of osteoporosis, it can contribute as a risk factor. This is mainly due to hormones that may have been added to the animal’s diet, and are then consumed by humans. These hormones can affect cellular growth and metabolism, and can thus be seen as a contributor to the condition. However, organic meats that have not been injected with steroids can still be nutritionally beneficial, and will not adversely affect the condition.
Causes for Osteoporosis
Ultimately, osteoporosis is caused by ageing. The body’s metabolism will naturally slow down over time, and this affects every organ system. Bone density reduces over time as the body is unable to keep up with regenerating cells, although preventive measures that increase bone density will slow this process. There are, however, a number of risk factors that can be linked with more chronic and extreme cases of the condition.
- Genetics – A family history of low bone density can put a person at greater risk for osteoporosis.
- Hormones – Along with imbalances that may be naturally present in the body, fluctuations in hormone levels that are associated with the thyroid and the sex glands can influence the progression of the illness.
- Nutritional intake – This can vary from low calcium intake to disorders that inhibit the way nutrients are absorbed into the body. Imbalanced eating habits can also affect the prevalence of osteoporosis.
- Medications – Some medications will inhibit the way that cells regenerate. This is often associated with corticosteroids and other derivatives.
- Lifestyle – A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the development of osteoporosis, in the same manner that active lifestyles are used as a preventive measure.
- Alcohol and tobacco – Both of these substances reduce the body’s ability to regenerate cells, and excessive consumption of either can lead to weakened bones.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
In the early stage of osteoporosis, clear symptoms are often lacking, and early deterioration may only be evident through imaging tests which will show the lesser bone density. As the condition progresses, certain signs will become obvious, and can indicate that a nursing diagnosis should be sought.
Indicators that will often be linked with the development of osteoporosis include:
- Hunched posture
- Becoming shorter
- Back pains
- Frequent bone fractures
Although some patients may also experience joint pains, these are often associated with compensation in the skeletal system in order to bear the body’s weight. The affected areas in osteoporosis are specifically the bones.
Specific diagnosis for osteoporosis is made through imaging tests. This will generally consist of lower level X-rays that can show bone density, pockets, and mineral levels within the bones. The examining physician will make a determination as to the extent of the condition based on this information.
Treatment for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis treatment will often consist of a combination of medication interventions as well as lifestyle changes. Specific drugs that treat this condition are of a class called bisphosphates, which encourage bone growth and cell regeneration. Common side effects for this type of treatment can include nausea and gastro-intestinal upset, although this is primarily for the oral form. Injection treatments of these same drugs have a beneficial result without the side effects. Being a long term care pharmacy, Medico RX offers patients great options for osteoporosis.
Hormone therapy is another intervention for osteoporosis. These can be applicable for both men and women, since the treatments are essentially convincing the body that it is younger, and thus able to regenerate more rapidly. Side effects for these drugs can vary, based on the individual’s medical history.
What is the Prognosis for People with Osteoporosis?
While osteoporosis can result in limited movement and pain, the general outlook for patients with this condition is positive. The condition is treatable, and a combination of medications and lifestyle changes can halt and even reverse the condition. One of the larger factors that will play a part in the long term effects is how soon the condition is diagnosed, and how well patients adhere to the lifestyle and treatment plans.
Foundations for support for people with osteoporosis are able to offer emotional and practical counseling. This includes information such as updates on new research into medications and interventions as well as support networks for overall physical wellbeing.