Osteoporosis is a fairly common disease among the elderly that, if left untreated, can dramatically affect a senior’s quality of life. Therefore, today we will address this topic in depth. What is osteoporosis? Can osteoporosis be reversed? What causes osteoporosis and what are ways to prevent osteoporosis? Find out all this today! Learn about the risk factors for osteoporosis, the symptoms and ways to treat and relieve pain.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is one of the most common metabolic bone diseases. Until recently, it was considered an inherent consequence of ageing. We now know that there are measures for osteoporosis prevention and treatment.
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the human skeletal system. The disease leads to a reduction in the density of the bones and a disruption in the cohesion of their tissues, resulting in a much higher susceptibility to fractures, which can occur even with low loads. Osteoporosis primarily affects postmenopausal women, but the condition can also affect older men. There are two types of osteoporosis, primary, i.e. related to age and sex hormone deficiency, and secondary related to co-morbidities or medication.
What causes osteoporosis?
Under normal conditions, bones are remodelled at all times. This process is based on two basic mechanisms, bone resorption and bone remodelling by osteoclasts and osteoblasts. In the course of osteoporosis, this process is disturbed and shifted towards the destruction of bone mass, resulting in a decrease in bone density and a greater susceptibility to fracture.
Several factors that control the function of both osteoblasts and osteoclasts contribute to this abnormality. One of the primary abnormalities that result in the development of osteoporosis is oestrogen deficiency, which indirectly affects the function of bone-forming cells. The bone mass loss also occurs physiologically with age as an inevitable part of the body’s ageing processes.
What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?
There are numerous risk factors of osteoporosis described that increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis in a given group of people. The most important of these include:
- Vitamin D deficiency.
- Excessive smoking.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Nutritional deficiencies, especially insufficient intake of calcium and phosphorus.
- Lack of physical activity combined with being underweight.
- Disorders of other organs or systemic disease entities, such as hypogonadism, i.e. disorders of testicular or ovarian function that lead to unbalanced levels of sex hormones, among others, endocrine disorders affecting various organs of the endocrine system, such as Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, acromegaly, diabetes mellitus and parathyroid gland dysfunction, malabsorption syndromes resulting in abnormal uptake of specific chemical compounds from ingested food, autoimmune diseases, among others, chronic kidney disorders or certain oncological diseases.
- long-term use of certain medications (proton pump inhibitors,
- glucocorticosteroids, hypothyroid thyroid hormones, substances used in oncology treatment, lithium compounds used in psychiatric treatment, and anticoagulants).
What are early warning signs of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is so dangerous that in the early stages of its development it does not yield many symptoms that can be noticed by the patient without any specialised tests. The diagnosis is usually only made when pathological fractures start to occur – hence the importance of early prevention to prevent the development of osteoporosis. Furthermore, people in risk groups for this condition should be screened regularly to detect osteoporosis early.
Osteoporosis is a disease that often develops over many years without any noticeable symptoms. The only symptom of osteoporosis that can be detected without specialised diagnostic tests is bone fractures as a result of trauma, which in healthy people would not lead to this phenomenon. It is usually only at this point that the diagnostic process is initiated, which often reveals already very advanced osteoporotic changes in the bones of the patient in question.
Basic principles of osteoporosis prevention
Wondering whether osteoporosis can be reversed? We will answer this question in a moment because, as is usually the case, it is better to prevent disease than to try to reverse its effects. What are the ways of osteoporosis prevention?
First of all, it is worth ensuring the following:
- avoidance of stimulants, i.e. smoking and alcohol consumption,
- regular physical activity and weight-bearing exercise, especially in the elderly, to help maintain balance and improve muscle strength.
- reduction of the risk of falls, which means avoiding slippery floors, poor lighting after dark,
- proper supply of calcium protein and vitamin D in the diet, and if the diet does not provide adequate amounts, supplementation should be considered.
Can osteoporosis be reversed?
Unfortunately, the answer to the question can osteoporosis be reversed is not positive. At the moment, no treatment overturns the natural ability of bones to regenerate. However, there are many ways to alleviate its symptoms, as well as prevention, that are worth implementing into your life in order to stay fit for longer.