Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones’ and is often referred to as the fragile bone disease. It is a term used to describe low bone density as measured on a bone density scan. This means your bones may have lost strength. Fractures that occur because of reduced bone strength are described as ‘fragility fractures’ and many of these will be caused by osteoporosis. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 experience fractures, mostly as a result of low bone strength. Although fragility fractures caused by osteoporosis can happen in various parts of the body, the wrists, hips and spine are the most commonly affected sites. Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. This condition is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis, because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disease; osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue. When bones become severely weakened by osteoporosis, simple movements – such as bending over to pick up a heavy bag of groceries or sneezing forcefully – can lead to broken bones. Hip, spine and wrist fractures are the most common fractures associated with osteoporosis.
FUNCTIONS OF YOUR BONES :
Your bones have several functions.
• They give your body its overall structure and
• provide support and protection for your internal organs.
• They store calcium and other minerals and work with your muscles to allow your body to move.
• They also contain bone marrow, which is where your blood cells are produced.
• Provide support structure. Although from the outside your bones look like simple, solid structures, they actually have a clever design that allows your skeleton to be strong without being heavy.
The state of your bones is influenced by several factors, and these include, your age, lifestyle, diet , medication and possibly hereditary.
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by
• low bone mass and
• deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to
• increased bone fragility and risk of
• fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed through a bone mineral density test, a simple, painless test that measures the amount of bone in the spine and hip.
There are certain risk factors, which may be reduced by becoming aware of these risk factors and taking action to slow down bone loss. Low bone mineral density is a major risk factor for fracture, the main consequence of osteoporosis. Other key risk factors include older age, prior low-trauma fracture, a history of falls and use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids Family history of a fragility fracture is often a contributing factor.
After the age of about 35 years, the difference between the amount of bone that is removed and the amount of bone that is laid down starts to get slightly out of balance as part of the ageing process. As a result, the total amount of bone tissue starts to decrease. This is often described as ‘bone loss’ or ‘bone thinning’.
Women , men and younger ones can suffer from this condition. Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis because bone loss becomes more rapid for several years after the menopause, when sex hormone levels decrease. In addition, women tend to have smaller bones than men and in general live longer, with loss of bone tissue continuing for longer, making fragility fractures more likely.
Osteoporosis is not a condition that just affects women, although this is a common misconception. If you are a man, you might be thinking osteoporosis can’t affect you as it’s a ‘women’s problem, but, in fact, one in five men break a bone after the age of 50 years because of low bone strength. Younger men and women before the menopause can also, but more unusually, have osteoporosis and fractures. Usually an underlying condition or reason is identified but sometimes no cause is found.
If you are someone with very fragile bones, a fracture of one or more of the spinal bones can occasionally occur after an awkward movement such as reaching up to a cupboard. Unlike hip fractures, which happen when you fall, spinal fractures can occur following everyday activities of daily living such as bending or stooping.
Osteoporosis can be treated with lifestyle changes and, often, the use of prescription medication. Paying attention to diet , with adequate calcium and vitamin D intake , and getting regular physical activity are important lifestyle changes. Weight-bearing and strength training exercises can help to manage pain and improve the strength of bones and muscles, which helps to prevent falls. Broken hips caused by osteoporosis usually need to be repaired surgically. This can include the use of specialized “pins and plates,” but can also involve hip replacement surgery. The visit to your physician, would give you more details on treatments to be employed, and effective medications that are available, to be taken under strict supervision.
OSTEOARTHRITIS, is the most common form of arthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease that involves thinning or destruction of the smooth cartilage that covers the ends of bones, as well as changes to the bone underlying the joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis produces pain, stiffness and reduced movement of the affected joint, which ultimately affects ones ability to do physical activities, reducing quality of life.
Osteoarthritis most often affects the hips, knees, fingers (i.e., base of the thumb, tips and middle joints of the fingers), feet or spine. It affects each joint differently, and symptoms are easy to overlook. It can be painful – the pain may result from overuse of a joint, prolonged immobility or painful bony growth in finger joints .
The risks factors that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis include family history, physical inactivity, excess weight and overuse or injury of joints.
Osteoarthritis can be managed with the use of joint protection (decreasing the amount of work the joint has to do), exercise, pain relief medication, heat and cold treatments, and weight control. Severe arthritis may be treated with an operation, where damaged joints are replaced with an artificial implant. Knee and hip joint replacements are commonly performed.
Regular weight bearing exercises are useful, but this may be difficult with arthritis. It is best to seek the help of a physiotherapist, for professional care.
The importance of your diet cannot be overemphasized with regards to the health of your bones.
The picture below shows some vital nutrients that should be on your daily menu, to maintain healthy bones. Calcium and vitamin D rich foods are very essential. Dairy foods, Sea foods, fresh fruits and broccoli, green beans, vegetables [ spinach, Efo, Ugwu etc] , nuts and pulses are all very vital for strong bones.