Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to weak, thinning bones. Bones have cells in them that are constantly building, removing and rebuilding the structure of the bone with calcium. This rejuvenative process keeps the bones alive and healthy. However, as people age this process changes so that more calcium is being reabsorbed into the body than can be included in the bones, causing the bones to lose strength. When this occurs, there is a greater risk of breaks or fractures. At UAMS, we have orthopedic experts who can accurately address your health concerns and help you recover and continue to lead an active lifestyle.
Who is at risk for osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis affects over 10 million Americans over the age of 50, with women 4 times more likely to get osteoporosis than men. In addition, another 34 million Americans have low bone mass (osteopenia), which can lead to osteoporosis. This group is at a greater risk for osteoporosis later in life.
The exact cause of osteoporosis is unknown, but a number of things can contribute to the disease including:
- Aging – Bones become less dense and weaker with age.
- Race – White and Asian women are most at risk. But, anyone of any race may get the disease.
- Body weight – People who weigh less and have less muscle are more at risk for this condition.
- Lifestyle factors – Limited physical activity, excessive caffeine or alcohol use, smoking, lack of dietary calcium, and vitamin D deficiency may all increase your risks.
- Certain medicines – Some medicines may increase your risk.
- Hormonal changes – Low estrogen is one of the main causes of bone loss in women, with women may lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5 to 7 years after menopause.
- Family history – Having a family history of bone disease may increase your risk
Diagnosing and Treating Osteoporosis
If you have osteoporosis, you might not be aware of it, as the symptoms are usually mild. You may experience pain in your muscles or bones, particularly in your back. The symptoms of osteoporosis may look like other medical problems, which is why it’s important
Some of the best ways to treat osteoporosis are also ways you can help prevent it. These include:
- Maintain a proper body weight.
- Exercise programs and conditioning to increase weight-bearing and physical fitness
- Cut down on caffeine and alcohol.
- Stop smoking.
- Get enough calcium and Vitamin D through diet and supplements.
- Consider installing hand railings or other assistive devices in your bathroom or shower.
When you come to UAMS, you’ll benefit from the internationally recognized expertise and experience of our osteoporosis and orthopedic doctors.