Physician pointing at potential Osteoporosis in a bone in x-rays.

Osteoporosis 101

It’s estimated that about 200 million people worldwide have osteoporosis. This means that about one in three women and one in five men age 50 or above across the globe are at risk of having a bone fracture extremely easy, say while sneezing or running into the wall.

“Osteoporotic fractures may be very painful and can be very expensive,” Alliance Spine and Pain Physician Dr. Michael Schaufele stated. “It’s estimated that osteoporosis has caused over two million broken bones and 19 billion dollars in medical costs every year. That number is expected to grow.”

If you’re wondering what osteoporosis is, keep reading below to learn more.

What is Osteoporosis?

The word osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Technically speaking, osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones in the body to lose density and quality.

Bones are normally filled with porous holes, similar to a honeycomb. When we’re in our 20’s, our bones are the densest, which is also known as peak bone mass. As we continue to age, our bones begin to dissolve their mass. However, in a process called remodeling, new bone formations come in to replace those holes.

Bones with osteoporosis have much larger holes, meaning they have less density and mass on top of having abnormal tissue structure. They also are not able to keep up with making new structures to fill the holes. This means the bones become weak and more likely to break, sometimes from something as small as bumping the corner of a table.

What Are the First Signs of Osteoporosis?

Unfortunately, osteoporosis is a silent disease. There may not be any signs of it until you have your first fracture. However, if an unexpected fractured, height loss, or gradual spine curving takes place, it might be time to speak to your doctor.

There are certain people at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

  • Individuals older than 50
  • Women
  • Individuals with low body weight
  • Women who have recently gone through menopause
  • Individuals who smoke
  • Individuals with a family history of osteoporosis

What is the Best Treatment for Osteoporosis?

Once a person has osteoporosis, it’s hard to treat. There are some medications that help with the symptoms, however, the best thing you can do is to take preventative measures before the disease develops.

If you’re worried about your risk, the following tips may help keep your bones happy and healthy:

  • Exercise regularly, especially when it comes to lifting weights. Doing so helps to build the strength in your bones.
  • Make sure to consume enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Reach for dairy products, spinach, broccoli, dried beans, salmon, eggs, sardines, orange juice, cereal, and bread.
  • Spend about 10 to 15 minutes in the sun twice a week so your body can use sunlight to make vitamin D naturally.
  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks and alcohol.

If you have additional questions, click here to schedule an appointment with our expert team at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.