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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis

Posted by Prahallad Panda on 7:04 PM Comments

Osteoporosis means porous bone. Osteopenia is the precursor of osteoporosis. In both the conditions the bone becomes more fragile and more susceptible to fractures.

It affects men as well as women. One out of every two women and one out of every four men over 50 are prone to develop osteoporosis-related fracture of the hip, vertebrae or wrist in their lifetime.
Lateral spine X-ray showing osteoporotic wedge...Image via Wikipedia

Women having early menopause and post-menopausal women are prone for osteoporosis due to insufficient female hormone oestrogen. Men having low levels of testosterone before his forties, or in conjunction with obesity are also prone for it.

Lack of proper nutrition due to various reasons like eating disorders, surgeries on stomach and intestine; diet low in vitamin D and calcium; people having diseases that hamper absorption of calcium; people suffering from kidney diseases having low level of vitamin D can put them at risk.

Medication like steroids, anti-convulsants, or anticoagulation therapy for a long time can affect bone density. Cigarette smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and leading a sedentary life also puts one at risk for osteoporosis.

These are some of the wide range of risk factors and something can be done to help prevent osteoporosis. The first step perhaps is to incorporate calcium into diet. There are many sources of calcium dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, sardines, and some other types of fishes.

Most vitamin D is synthesized in skin from exposure to sun light, but older people are poor synthesizers of vitamin D; so people in their sixties and seventies need vitamin D supplements.

Lifestyle modification and weight-bearing exercises are principal steps to strengthen legs and hips and help to maintain a healthy blood  flow to the bones.

Even if somebody has osteoporosis, exercise is important. The only difference is that the exercises should be specifically designed for people with weak bones. People with osteoporosis should not perform any kind of strenuous, high-impact aerobics.

Oestrogen replacement therapy that was once favoured has gone out of favour because of various risks including that of developing breast cancer.

Bisphosfonates are the group of drugs that help to increase bone mass and reduce the incidence of fractures, though atypical fractures are reported. The most dangerous side effect of bisphosphonates is oteonecrosis of the jaw, where bone does not heal after dental work. So now dentists are very careful not to do major dental work in people who are taking these drugs.

Raloxifene, a selective oestrogen-receptor modulator prescribed to the patients of breast cancer also prevent osteoporosis. Calcium metabolism related hormones like calcitonin is co-prescribed with calcium to the patients.

Another one is teriparatide, an injectable form of human parathyroid hormone, which regulates calcium metabolism; also has been approved for treatment of osteoporosis in men and post-menopausal women.

One important consideration is to prevent fall in people who have significant osteoporosis. If an individual has osteoporosis and has difficulty in moving around, specific changes need to be made in their surroundings.

Lifestyle modification, aerobic weight bearing exercise, appropriate sun exposure, healthy food with supplementation of minerals and vitamin D will go a long way in preventing osteoporosis; and is better to prevent it than try to cure it.
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