Bone in your body constantly breaks down, and new bone replaces it. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones break down faster than they can be replaced, making them less dense and more porous. This brittleness weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to fractures and breaks.
Osteoporosis can have a big impact on your quality of life. Lifestyle disruptions range from pain to depression to long-term home care.
People who have osteoporosis or are likely to develop it should be aware of potential complications of the disease and seek solutions before issues arise.
There are no obvious signs of osteoporosis. Often, people don’t realize they have it until they experience a bump or fall that causes a bone to break. Some people will experience a loss of height over time or a stooped posture as a result of a broken vertebrae and curvature of the spine.
In addition to making you more susceptible to breaks and fractures, osteoporosis can lead to other complications:
Osteoporosis can be disabling and limit your physical activity. A loss of activity can cause you to gain weight. It can also increase stress on your bones, in particular your knees and hips. Gaining weight can also increase your risk of other problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Less physical activity can lead to a loss of independence and isolation. Activities you once enjoyed may be too painful now. This loss, added to the possible fear of fractures, can bring on depression. A poor emotional state can further hinder your ability to manage health issues. A positive, forward-thinking outlook is helpful when approaching any medical issue.
Fractures caused by osteoporosis can be severely painful and debilitating. Fractures of the spine can result in:
- a loss of height
- a stooping posture
- persistent back and neck pain
Some people with osteoporosis can break a bone and not notice it. However, most broken bones need hospital care. Surgery is often needed for this procedure, which may require an extended hospital stay and additional medical costs.
Nursing home care
Many times, a hip fracture will require long-term care in a nursing home. If a person is bedridden while receiving long-term care, there’s a higher likelihood, they may experience:
- cardiovascular complications
- more exposure to infectious diseases
- an increased susceptibility to various other complications
Talk to your healthcare provider for more information about these potential risk factors. They can also help you create both a treatment and management plan if and when necessary.
The following are some factors that put you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Age: Typically, the older you get, the more at risk you are.
- Gender: Women, especially women in menopause, are more likely to get osteoporosis than men, as low estrogen levels lead to weak bones.
- Genetics: Osteoporosis can be inherited.
- Body type: People with a small, slender build are more likely to develop it.
- Medications: Medications such as steroids have been linked to osteoporosis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Thyroid problems: Some have been linked to osteoporosis.
- Low vitamin D and calcium levels: Low levels can lead to bone loss.
- Lack of exercise or long-term bed rest: Both situations can weaken bones.
- Tobacco and alcohol: They can weaken bones as well.
There isn’t a cure for osteoporosis. However, treatment is available to help slow the progression of the disease and manage symptoms. Bones need calcium to stay strong and healthy. Not getting enough calcium early on in life can lead to osteoporosis later on.
Additionally, vitamin D can help your body absorb calcium. Be sure to check with your doctor about adding any supplements to your diet.
A moderate amount of exercise can help your bones and body stay strong. Falls account for a large number of bone fractures, so practices such as yoga, tai chi, or any other balance-training exercises can help you have better balance to avoid falls and fractures.
Medications can also help with osteoporosis. Antiresorptive medications slow the rate of bone loss. Anabolic medications promote bone growth.
Other prevention methods involve improving eyesight and using a cane or walker when walking to prevent slipping and falling.
Although there’s no permanent cure for osteoporosis, there are many things you can do to:
- treat your symptoms
- strengthen your body
- slow the progression of the disease
Try to focus on minimizing your symptoms and preventing other complications.
If osteoporosis has affected your quality of life, talk with your doctor about possible solutions, especially if you’re experiencing signs of depression. Also, seek assistance and support from your family and friends.
Keep a positive outlook on life. Try to not view changes in your usual activities as a loss of independence. Instead, look at them as opportunities to learn different ways of doing things and to explore new, enjoyable activities.