Osteoporosis causes the bones of the body to become brittle. In turn, they break easily. It is characterized by low bone mass and loss of bone tissue that may lead to weak and fragile bones. Those with osteoporosis, have an increased risk for fractured and broken bones, particularly in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Once thought to be a condition of old women, the osteoporosis causes actually begin much earlier in life. Peak bone density occurs at age 25. So, it is important to build strong bones at a young age so that they will remain strong later in life. Having adequate calcium is one of the ways people build strong bones.
10 million Americans already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass that makes them susceptible to the disease. 4 in 5 people with osteoporosis are women. 1 in 2 women and 1 in 8 men will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lives.
Osteoporosis happens because an imbalance occurs between new bone formation and old bone resorption. Osteoporosis causes when the body fails to form enough new bone, or too much old bone is reabsorbed, or both. Calcium and phosphate are two essential minerals for normal bone formation. Calcium is also essential for the heart, brain, and other organs to function properly. To keep those critical organs functioning, the body may reabsorb calcium from the bones for their use. Thus, the bones may become weaker, resulting in brittle and fragile bones that can break easily.
The leading osteoporosis cause is a lack of certain hormones, especially estrogen in women and androgen in men. Women over 60 are frequently diagnosed with the disease. When women hit menopause, they have lower estrogen levels which increases their risk for osteoporosis.
Other osteoporosis causes include overuse of corticosteroids (Cushing syndrome), thyroid problems, lack of muscle use, bone cancer, certain genetic disorders, use of certain medications, and problems such as low calcium in the diet.
Risk factors include gender (women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men), race (whites and Asians are more likely to develop the disease), post-menopausal condition, lack of regular periods, cigarette smoking, anorexia or bulimia, heavy alcohol consumption, use of corticosteroids, and use of anticonvulsants.
Early in the course of the disease, often osteoporosis causes no symptoms. Later, there may be dull pain in the bones or muscles particularly in the lower back or neck.
As the disease progresses, sharp pains may develop suddenly. It may be made worsened by activity that puts weight on the area. The area may also be tender. The pain generally begins to subside in one week but may linger on for more than 3 months.
Women who are past menopause and have constant pain in areas such as neck or lower back, should consult their doctor for further evaluation including risk assessment and bone density scanning.
And, that’s your run down on osteoporosis causes.