Osteoporosis or bone loss is one of the most common bone diseases in our country. This leads to a sharp decrease in bone mass, which over time leads to damage to bone mass and bone structure. These disorders then have an impact on the bone function, so that bone fractures often occur. Osteoporosis or bone loss can be prevented relatively well with a balanced diet rich in calcium. Sports and a lot of exercise also help against this disease.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, or bone loss, causes the sufferer’s bones to become porous and weaken faster than normal. Compared to healthy people, the relationship between bone formation and bone resorption is no longer correct in those affected by osteoporosis. See theinternetfaqs for Whooping Cough Basics.
At the beginning of the disease, the patients hardly feel any psychological strain because there are almost no symptoms. Only when the bone mass continues to decrease can bone fractures suddenly occur without a cause, which of course is associated with further pain. As a result of the breaks, a bad posture is often assumed to protect the body and muscular tension occurs.
As osteoporosis progresses, those affected are no longer able to cope with everyday life on their own and therefore often need help.
As with many other diseases, there is not one basic cause for osteoporosis, rather there are many factors that can lead to the onset of the disease. In general it can be said that with this disease there is a disturbance in the metabolism of the bones, so that the formation of the bones up to the age of 40, as is usual in healthy people, is no longer guaranteed.
Risks that can lead to osteoporosis are, for example, underweight or a vitamin deficiency. Too little exercise and an unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking or taking various medications, can also promote the disease. Those affected often also have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or kidney dysfunction.
It has now been proven that women are more at risk than men, mainly due to a lack of estrogen. Osteoporosis is also partly genetically inherited.
Typical Symptoms & Signs
Osteoporosis develops slowly, so that there are hardly any symptoms at the beginning of the disease. Only as the disease progresses do diffuse symptoms appear, which those affected often do not associate with the bone loss. Osteoporosis can initially make itself felt through back pain or pain in the knee joints.
Likewise, broken bones for no apparent reason, so-called spontaneous fractures, are among the first symptoms of osteoporosis. Spontaneous fractures increase in the advanced stage of bone loss. Characteristically, the neck of the femur, the vertebral bodies and the upper and lower arm are particularly frequently affected by a fracture.
Misalignments of the corresponding extremities and severe pain can indicate a fracture. However, vertebral body fractures in particular often appear as a creeping fracture. Those affected do not notice the fracture of the vertebral body because it causes little or no pain. If there are multiple fractures in the spine, a hunchback can develop.
This is also known colloquially as a widow’s hump. People with advanced osteoporosis can even lose several centimeters in height due to vertebral fractures. Basically, persistent back pain, a decrease in height and the tendency to break bones are indicators of osteoporosis.
course of the disease
Osteoporosis is chronic but can be reduced if the disease is treated in time. However, if it is detected too late or if it is treated incorrectly, it can have serious consequences. Frequent bone fractures and pain occur as well as a curvature of the back.
In most cases, the body size also decreases. Fearing renewed pain, many patients try to take it easy, but this only leads to another bad posture and causes more pain from tension. The symptoms can lead to the affected person being significantly restricted in their everyday life and no longer able to cope without the help of relatives or carers. Timely diagnosis and correct treatment of osteoporosis is therefore all the more important.
The most common complications associated with osteoporosis include dangerous bone fractures in advanced age. A femoral neck fracture can have particularly serious consequences. In patients older than 70 years, this fracture leads to death in almost one third of all cases. About half of all those affected do not fully recover and remain in need of care for the rest of their lives.
Postural damage is also a common complication of osteoporosis. The so-called “widow’s hump” is particularly characteristic. The patients usually suffer very severely because of their deformed external appearance. However, there are often physical impairments. Due to the severe curvature of the spine, the thoracic space becomes smaller, which is regularly associated with respiratory dysfunction, which in turn leads to shortness of breath and, in rare cases, serious lung diseases.
If the osteoporosis is not treated in time and progresses far, a number of other complications can be expected in addition to impaired breathing. Poor posture often causes chronic pain and severely restricts mobility, which makes it difficult to cope with everyday life and participate in social life. The reduction in quality of life can also cause depression. In order to prevent this negative spiral, the treatment of osteoporosis should be started as early as possible.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you have osteoporosis, you should always consult a doctor so that bone loss can be counteracted. Osteoporosis causes bone density to decrease faster than usual. In order to be able to counteract this effect, medical and drug treatment should be sought as soon as possible. Anyone who decides to undergo such treatment at an early stage can count on a quick and effective improvement. However, osteoporosis cannot be completely cured.
The bone density can be delayed with dietary supplements and other preparations, so that the life of the person concerned can be made much more comfortable. If the trip to the doctor is delayed when osteoporosis occurs, serious complications can occur. Bones become weaker and more fragile by the day, so even the slightest stress can fracture them. The following therefore applies: At the first signs of osteoporosis, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. This is the only way to initiate a treatment that counteracts bone loss and slows it down significantly. If medical and drug treatment is completely dispensed with, life-threatening complications can occur under certain circumstances.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment depends on the stage at which the osteoporosis was diagnosed and how it progresses. The aim of the therapy is primarily to improve the metabolism of the bones. In addition, attempts are made primarily with medication to make the pain bearable for those affected.
If osteoporosis is detected at a stage when bone loss has not progressed that far, there is a good chance that this process can at least be slowed down. Treatment also includes changing your diet. The calcium contained in many foods, for example, strengthens the bones and should therefore be taken in large quantities. Vitamin D also helps to reduce the symptoms of osteoporosis.
After the treatment and rehabilitation, the patient receives therapy and aftercare recommendations for the attending general practitioner. The priority is to continue the drug therapy for osteoporosis and physiotherapeutic measures. An individual aftercare program is put together for the patient. This also includes physiotherapeutic and ergotherapeutic prescriptions.
The use of aids is checked and constantly adapted to the changing circumstances of the patient. In the case of osteoporosis, follow-up care is necessary and sensible in any case. On the one hand, the treatment of the patient’s current pain symptoms is individually adapted. On the other hand, therapeutic measures for physical movement exercises are designed appropriately.
As part of the follow-up examinations, a continuously adapted drug therapy is carried out. The bone mass of the patient with osteoporosis is measured and determined by means of continuous follow-up examinations. Estrogen treatment, which continues until the end of life, is monitored by the doctor.
Spontaneous fractures can be avoided as far as possible with suitable aftercare by making the patient’s everyday life safe. This includes, for example, sturdy, comfortable shoes and non-slip floors, but also aids such as glasses for vision problems. Another therapeutic approach in aftercare is an adapted, balanced diet. Patients with osteoporosis should always be adequately supplied with vitamin D and calcium. This should be done either through appropriate foods or by taking dietary supplements.
Outlook & Forecast
Since osteoporosis is an irreversible process, there is no prospect of complete healing of damage that has already occurred. The primary aim is to stop bone loss and to prevent the tendency towards brittleness of the skeleton and susceptibility to pain in general. Due to the strongly fluctuating symptoms and long-term treatment, strict adherence to the therapeutic measures remains necessary for a good prognosis. Patients must therefore attend regular check-ups and take the prescribed medication, even if they are only slightly suffering.
If the treatment is not carried out properly, there is a risk of continuous deterioration of the bone substance. Patients lose height, show deformities in their posture and later suffer from sometimes severe bone pain. Without consistent therapy, bone fractures in old age pose a great danger for those affected. Complications and an increased risk of further injuries in the already affected regions lead in the worst case to a need for care or to death. In general, the probability of a manifested movement restriction increases despite surgical interventions.
Postoperative bleeding and reduced ability to heal wounds are common in new fractures. For patients, this also means a sharp increase in the personal surgical risk. The mortality rate for people over the age of 70 for a femoral neck fracture is 20 percent. Conscientious prevention prevents the development of pronounced bone loss. In the case of already existing osteoporosis, the course can be specifically influenced. Complications and pain that occur later do not occur with timely treatment.
You can do that yourself
A calcium-rich diet prevents osteoporosis and can have a positive effect on existing bone loss. In addition, a sufficient supply of vitamin D is important so that the important mineral can be stored in the bones. Magnesium and vitamins K, C and B6 also contribute to bone health. A balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrain and dairy products usually provides the body with enough vital substances; occasionally taking food supplements may be indicated.
Osteoporosis patients should avoid excessive consumption of foods and drinks that are rich in “calcium thieves” such as phosphate and oxalic acid: These include cola, canned sausage and meat products, spinach, beetroot, chard and rhubarb. Excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol also has a negative effect on calcium metabolism.
Exercise is an important part of osteoporosis therapy. Sports with a low risk of injury such as walking, jogging or swimming are well suited; team sports and martial arts are not recommended. In addition, the muscles can be strengthened with the help of special gymnastic exercises and the entire musculoskeletal system can be stabilized. In everyday life, it is important to avoid falls: In the living area, all tripping hazards should therefore be eliminated, and rubber mats in the bathroom reduce the risk of slipping. At night, good lighting ensures more security.