After a certain age , the body bones start to become weaker and thinner leading sometimes to what is known as “osteoporosis “..
Osteoporosis means ‘bones with holes’, the bones become weak and brittle due to loss of calcium which can lead to fractures ( commonly in hips/ spine/ wrists ) with any mild trauma , like a simple fall.
Osteoporosis is usually asymptomatic ( You do not feel anything wrong) until you break a bone . Osteoporosis is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis where you feel aches and pains in spine and hips.
It occurs mainly in middle-aged and elderly women, after the menopause but it can also affect men. There are other risk factors apart from aging that may lead to bone weakness :
• Caucasian or Asian racial origin
• family history of osteoporosis
• being underweight
• smoking & drinking alcohol
• drinking a lot of caffeine drinks (e.g. more than 3 cups of coffee a day)
• getting little exercise or physical activity
• having little calcium in their diet or a poor diet in general.
• lack of hormones due to the menopause, especially early menopause
• taking cortisone tablets.
How is it diagnosed?
Th e best test which is done on the spine and neck of the femur bone is the bone density scan (DEXA scan). Sometimes Xrays can tell roughly that the bones look weak and may show some subtle fractures.
How to prevent it?
• regular weight-bearing exercise such as tennis, jogging and walking
• Stop smoking & Cut down on alcohol and caff eine.
• Have a healthy diet.
• Have adequate calcium & Vitamin D (click here for more info).
What can your doctor do?
• discuss your diet
• suggest hormone tablets and calcium supplements
• review your risks for osteoporosis, and if at high risk, suggest further tests such as bone density scan
• prescribe special medication.