Osteoporosis is a term applied to ‘weakness of the bones’ which render them fragile and prone to fractures. The bones pass through a series of changes before fracture occur
Bones become stronger during adolescence and early adulthood. One must ensure adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D and adequate weight bearing exercise so that enough bone is deposited in the ‘bone bank’. The quality and quantity of the bones are depleted as one ages; this is particularly rapid at the peri-menopausal and post-menopausal age (viz around the time the ovaries stop releasing ova, and menstruation ceases)
Osteoporosis, or an increased risk for developing must be identified and prevented to the extent possible, or treated if required. Some of the common risk factors are lean body structure, sedentary habits, use of corticosteroids (for other medical indications), smoking and family history of fractures.
A screening questionnaire ‘FRAX’ is available online to assess the risk of fracture one faces
Imaging of the bones from different areas (spine, hip) by means of DEXA scan can quantify the risk and degree of bone thinning; it can also be used to assess response to treatment, which is necessary only after 18-24 months of drug use
Besides adequate ingestion of calcium and vitamin D, a variety of medicines that specifically address osteoporosis are available: those that reduce the rate of bone loss, those that increase new bone formation, a combination of both, among others
Your doctor will discuss the options that are available and decide which best suits you, after giving you the possible choices
Fractures are the final expression of osteoporosis. One must try to prevent or postpone the progress, beginning much earlier.
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