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Osteoporosis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

By Nupur Jha

Osteoporosis means porous bones; it refers to a bone disease which takes place when your bone density is lowered and the bone-producing ability of your body reduces too. Both men and women get affected by this disease but women are more prone to it post menopause as their body experiences a lack of oestrogen and this hormone aids in protecting against the ailment [1] .

This disease makes you more prone to the risk of bone fractures, even if you get a minor injury. It leads to around 8.9 million fractures across the world. Hip, wrist and spine are commonly affected by this condition.

Symptoms Of Osteoporosis

The most common symptoms of this disease are as follows [2] -

  • Brittle bones which can get fractured easily.
  • Fractured vertebra causing back pain.
  • Losing height over time.
  • Bent posture.

Causes Of Osteoporosis

Low oestrogen in women
Around menopause, the oestrogen levels start dropping and the lack of oestrogen in women triggers bone loss which makes them more prone to the risk of osteoporosis and fractures as the bones turn more brittle and weaker.

Low testosterone in men
Men require testosterone and oestrogen hormones to maintain their bone health. The lack of these hormones results in the reduction of the bone density triggering the chances of hip fracture, spinal cord fracture, etc. in men.


Other hormones lead to this condition too

Other hormones like parathyroid hormones and growth hormones also play a role in the regulation of bone density. When the parathyroid hormones are secreted in excess in the body, the bones release too much calcium into the bloodstream which leads to a decline in bone density.

Lack of calcium
Calcium is a very crucial mineral which our body requires to maintain bone health and when there is a lack of calcium, your body takes it from your bones which results in making them weak and fragile.

Lack of vitamin D
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium by our body. Lack of this vitamin results in the weakening of the bones.

Lack of exercise
Exercising regularly is important to maintain bone health. A sedentary lifestyle results in faster loss of bone density. Make sure you include weight-bearing exercises in your workout regime to prevent this condition.


Smoking and excess alcohol consumption

Apart from causing various health issues, drinking and smoking also trigger osteoporosis by affecting your bone health. Studies reveal that our bone health gets affected adversely by the nicotine present in the cigarettes; it blocks the ability of our body to use calcium, vitamin D and oestrogen. Similarly, drinking too much alcohol affects the functioning of the pancreas and lowers our body's ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D.


Other causes

Other causes of osteoporosis include having certain medicines such as cortisone, glucocorticoids, prednisone, hydrocortisone, anti-seizure drugs, etc. which are consumed to treat various health conditions like asthma, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, etc. are associated with bone loss too. Steroid drugs can weaken your bones leading to osteoporosis.


Treatment For Osteoporosis

This condition can't be completely reversed but you can manage it with the help of various methods:

Follow a healthy diet which includes foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol consumption to halt the loss of calcium from your bones.

Regular exercise
Work out on a regular basis to make sure you don't lose bones quickly. Include simple weight-bearing exercises in your regime like climbing stairs, jogging, hiking, brisk walking, etc. You can also play tennis and stay fit.

You could also visit a doctor to get yourself checked and get medicines accordingly. FDA-approved bone-building medicines called teriparatide and oestrogen-boosting drugs are some of the medicines your doctor could prescribe to you.

View Article References
  1. [1] Dobbs, M. B., Buckwalter, J., & Saltzman, C. (1999). Osteoporosis: the increasing role of the orthopaedist. The Iowa orthopaedic journal, 19, 43–52.
  2. [2] de Souza M. P. (2015). OSTEOPOROSIS DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT. Revista brasileira de ortopedia, 45(3), 220–229. doi:10.1016/S2255-4971(15)30361-X