Key Points about Osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis can affect anyone, but most often occurs in post-menopausal Caucasian or Asian-American females.
  • Osteoporosis is diagnosed using a specialized X-ray that determines your bone mineral composition.
  • Treatment for osteoporosis typically includes a combination of prescription medications and lifestyle modifications.

Overview

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become brittle and weak. In turn, you can suffer a painful bone fracture from something as simple as bending over or coughing.

Osteoporosis causes 

Human bones are constantly renewing and building new bones. Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. After this point, bones have a harder time renewing themselves. With older age, bone growth slows even further.

Osteoporosis risk factors

Factors that put you at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis include:

  • Being Caucasian or Asian-American
  • Being female, especially after going through menopause
  • Being older
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not getting enough calcium
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Smoking or using other tobacco products

You may be at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis if you have:

  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • A smaller body frame
  • A thyroid problem, such as overactive or underactive thyroid
  • An eating disorder
  • An overactive parathyroid or adrenal gland
  • Cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Taken corticosteroid medications for a long period of time
  • Undergone gastrointestinal surgery

Osteoporosis symptoms

Signs and symptoms of osteoporosis include:

  • Back pain
  • Bone fracture that occurs easily
  • Loss of height
  • Stooped posture

Osteoporosis diagnosis

To diagnose this condition, a specialist will use a painless X-ray test that measures the proportion of mineral in your bones – usually your hip and spine.

Osteoporosis treatment

Your specialist may recommend one or more of the following treatments for osteoporosis:

  • Bisphosphonates. If you are at an increased risk of bone fracture, your specialist may recommend this type of medication to reduce your risk.
  • Monoclonal antibody medications. Your specialist may prescribe this type of medication to help increase your bone density and reduce your risk of fracture.
  • Hormone-related therapy. Your specialist may recommend estrogen or other hormone therapy to help maintain your bone density.
  • Lifestyle modifications. Your specialist will likely recommend you make certain lifestyle modifications, such as not smoking, not drinking too much alcohol and reducing your fall risks in everyday life by wearing low-heeled shoes, installing grip bars and removing rugs from your home.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a rheumatologist for more specialized treatment.