|(A) X-Ray show Lower bone density. (B) Bone density compared to Normal. (C) Weight-bearing exercise (D) Healthy Diet with rich Calcium and Vitamin D|
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May 29, 2017
Osteoporosis – Treatment and Prevention
Osteoporosis, meaning porous bones, a disease in which the density and quality of bones are reduced. As bones become more porous and fragile, body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue. With osteoporosis, new bone creation is not able to keep up with old bone removal. Hence, the risk of fracture is significantly increased.
Bones are thickest and strongest in early adult life and the density of bones increase till late 20’s. After the age of 35, bone density is gradually lost. This happens to everyone, but some develop osteoporosis and lose density much faster than others. And this also makes them prone to fracture.
This is common amongst older people, but younger people could also be affected. Osteoporosis can affect both men and women. However, women are more at risk for developing osteoporosis due to the hormone changes that occur during menopause which directly affects bone density. Female hormone estrogen is essential for healthy bones. After menopause, estrogen level reduces and can lead to a rapid decrease in bone density. The cause of osteoporosis in men is unknown. However, low levels of testosterone may increase the risk as men continue to produce testosterone into old age.
Although many hormones in body can affect the process of bone turnover. If hormone producing glands are not functioning properly, it may increase risk of developing osteoporosis as well.
There are no major symptoms seen with osteoporosis. Some symptoms may be noticed such as reduction in height and bone pain due to bone shrink caused by decreased density.
Treatment includes medication, healthy diet, and weight-bearing exercise to prevent bone loss and to strengthen weak bones. Diagnosis of osteoporosis is based on the results of bone mineral density scan (DEXA or DXA scan); however, the decision of treatment is based on numerous factors such as age, sex, risk of fracture and previous history of injuries. If diagnosed with osteoporosis due to fracture, treatment should still be received to reduce the risk of further fractures.
Number of effective medications have been approved for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. These medications must be given according to specific needs and used in conjunction with recommended lifestyle changes such as weight bearing exercise, resistance exercise and healthy eating. Weight bearing exercise is the exercise where body weight supports feet and legs. High impact weight bearing exercises, such as running, skipping, dancing, aerobics are all useful ways to strengthen muscles, ligaments, and joints. Resistance exercise is used to contract muscles and the contractions lead to increase muscular mass, strength, endurance, and tone. Examples include body weight, free weights, and weight machines.
The most important nutrition for people affected by osteoporosis is calcium and vitamin D. If lactose intolerant or avoid dairy products; there are many other options to gain calcium and vitamin D from such as calcium fortified orange juice, plant based milks (soy and almond milk), green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach), seafood, etc.
Calcium is most important to maintain strong bones. Adults need 700 mg calcium a day, which should be obtained from daily diet. Calcium rich food are leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, tofu, yogurt, etc.
Vitamin D is also important for healthy bones and teeth because it helps absorb calcium. All adults should consume 10 mcg of vitamin D a day. Good dietary sources for vitamin D are oily fish (salmon, sardines), red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods (fat spreads, cereals).
Other lifestyle changes that can help prevent osteoporosis is by quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake.
Living with the disease
Osteoporosis does not mean endless fractures. Healthy lifestyle can be maintained by regular exercise and eating balanced diet consisting of rich calcium and vitamin D.