Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones gradually become less dense and more fragile. Many people don’t know they have osteoporosis until they have already broken a bone. Learning more about the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of this disease can help patients better evaluate their chances of developing this condition.
Osteoporosis is often described as a “silent disease” because the individuals affected by it can not feel their bones getting weaker. Patients may notice that they are slowly becoming shorter or that their upper back is beginning to curve forward. This bent-over posture, which is particularly common in older women, is sometimes called “dowager’s hump,” and it is caused by osteoporosis of the spine.
Unfortunately, most people don’t notice any symptoms of osteoporosis until they have already fractured a bone. Fractures linked to this condition most commonly occur in the wrist, hip or spine.
The bodies of individuals with osteoporosis make too little bone, break down too much bone, or both. Bone is a living tissue with cells dying and being replaced. In younger people, more cells are created than are dying; a person’s bones are at their densest and strongest when they’re in their 20s, and this process of creation and death are balanced. As a person gets older, the rate of bone loss slowly starts to outpace that of bone production. Gradually, this causes the bones to become thinner and weaker. Consequently, aging is one of the primary causes of this condition.
The sex hormones estrogen and testosterone are also involved in regulating the density of bone. As women and men get older, their bodies begin to produce fewer sex hormones, causing the bones to become thinner and more fragile. A woman’s body drastically reduces its estrogen production during and after menopause, which is why osteoporosis is particularly common in postmenopausal women.
People who are white or Asian are more likely to develop osteoporosis than members of other ethnic groups. A susceptibility to osteoporosis can run in families. A sedentary lifestyle also increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Exercise can help strengthen bones, while a lack of exercise makes them weaker. Weight-bearing exercises that promote good posture and balance are particularly useful in making bones stronger. Examples of such activities include walking, weight lifting, running, jumping and dancing.
If you suspect that you or someone you love may have osteoporosis, we can help! At South Lake OBGYN, we can evaluate your current bone density using DEXA scanning methods. Contact us today for more information about this condition, or to schedule a consultation appointment at our Clermont, Florida office.