Signs And Symptoms Of Osteoporosis And How To Diagnose It

By | February 25, 2014

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the density and quality of the bone is reduced. It occurs when a person loses too much bone or makes too little bone and thus the bones become weak and become at risk for fractures. In osteoporosis, patient’s bones become porous, brittle and prone to fracture. This disease is so common that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men are at osteoporotic risk and it is a fact that an osteoporotic fracture occurs in every three seconds. It usually occurs at the hip, spine and wrist. The chance of this fracture increases with the age in both men and women. Several researched have already established that approximately 20% of female adults and 11% of the males above the age of 50 have osteoporosis.

Causes of Osteoporosis:

Normal bone is made up of several building blocks including protein, collagen, and calcium. When bones start losing their density, they become more prone to the damage. If the damage is left untreated and undiagnosed, it can lead to osteoporosis. Certain medical conditions, family history of osteoporosis, intake of excessive alcohol and smoking are also some of the biggest reason behind osteoporosis. The following are the major causes of the disease:

  • Severe drop in estrogen after menopause
  • Family history and body type
  • Lifestyle factors and health conditions
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of calcium

Symptoms Of Osteoporosis:

Symptoms of osteoporosis don’t appear until a bone breaks and thus it is termed as the ‘silent disease’. Usually fractures occur in the wrist, hip, spine, pelvis and upper arm. These fractures are painful and can also lead to the disability. You should however be careful about joint pains, swelling around the joints and inability to perform regular functions. If you experience all of this, it is a strong indication for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Diagnosis and Treatment:

Doctors perform several tests to diagnosis the severity of the problem. All these tests are meant to check and diagnose the bone density. This is usually done using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The x-ray scanning technique that is used to measure bone density emits low levels of radiation that is safe for the patients. Some other tests are also performed by the doctors that include quantitative computed tomography, bone densitometry and blood test markers. Doctors decide the medications once bone density scans are completed. Osteoporosis treatment involves lifestyle changes and few medications to maximize bone density and reduce the fracture risk. Some of the popular drugs that serve the purpose are Boniva, Actonel and Evista. These drugs should be taken under doctor’s supervision and as per recommended medication plan.