What is osteoporosis (bone loss)?
In healthy and young bones, there is a structure consisting of minerals attached to strong collagen fibers and mostly calcium salts. With aging, it is normal for this structure to lose its strength and weaken and become unstable. But osteoporosis means that bones become much more fragile due to the extreme decrease in bone density. Osteoporosis, known as osteoporosis, literally means spongy (porous) bone. The density of the bones decreases by forming cavities in them. This causes them to become prone to breakage and cracking. It is most often detected by imaging the bones after a fracture or crack has developed. The bones where fracture formation due to osteoporosis is most common are the bones in the wrists, spine and hips. The incidence of osteoporosis increases with age, and it is more likely to occur in women than in men.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis (bone loss)?
Bone resorption does not cause any symptoms in the early period. Despite the decrease in bone density, it is very difficult to detect the disease unless there is any fracture or cracking in the bone or bone density tests are not performed. In case of progression of osteoporosis, patients may feel some symptoms themselves. Some of these are as follows:
- Low back pain caused by a broken or collapsed vertebra in the spine
- Shortening of the neck due to the curvature of the bones over time
- Humpback and distorted posture
- Breaks and cracks that can occur even with simple movements
The above-mentioned symptoms are symptoms that can only occur when osteoporosis reaches advanced levels and bone damage begins to occur. After the disease reaches this stage, it is largely impossible to reverse the damage to the bones. For this reason, elderly individuals should apply the necessary lifestyle changes, pay attention to their diet and do sports regularly in order to avoid this disease. Post-menopausal women should have screening tests for bone density at intervals recommended by their physicians.
What are the causes of osteoporosis (bone loss)?
Bones are in a state of constant renewal. Cells called osteoblasts are responsible for making new bone cells, while osteoclast cells break down old bone cells. As age progresses, bone formation cannot keep up with bone destruction, and the process of bone resorption begins, and when this situation comes together with malnutrition, a picture called osteoporosis occurs. The risk factors that affect the occurrence of osteoporosis are as follows:
- Inadequate intake of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D
- Being female, and especially in the post-menopausal period
- Advanced age
- Genetic predisposition
- Decreases in sex hormones
- Disorders of thyroid hormones
- Removal of the ovaries in the premenopausal period
- Adrenal gland diseases
- Use of steroid-containing drugs
- Smoking and alcohol use
- Sedentary lifestyle
How is the diagnosis of osteoporosis (bone loss) made?
Osteoporosis also brings some complications. The most common of these are bone fractures. In the case of osteoporosis, it is not necessary to take a heavy blow or have an accident for bone fractures to occur. In patients with advanced osteoporosis, fractures may occur even as a result of a small sprain and sometimes even sudden movements such as coughing. An example of this is the detection of fractures, especially in people who go to the doctor due to hip pain. Bone density measurement should be performed in order to definitively diagnose bone resorption. For this, DEXA is the most frequently used and most reliable method today. While bone density can be measured easily and painlessly with the DEXA method, patients are not exposed to high amounts of radiation. The measurement can be made in any of the bones of the hip, wrist or spine, which are the areas most affected by osteoporosis. As mentioned above, osteoporosis does not cause any symptoms in the early period. For this reason, considering that osteoporosis is a very common disease without waiting for the symptoms to appear, post-menopausal women and men over the age of 50 should consult a physician and undergo regular DEXA measurement.
How is osteoporosis (bone loss) treated?
The nature of the treatment to be applied in bone resorption; It is planned by the physician by evaluating factors such as the level of progress of your disease, the problems you have experienced regarding bone health in the last 10 years, and the results of your bone density measurements. It can be applied in the form of a healthy diet plan together with vitamin and mineral supplements as a treatment for people who are less likely to have fractures in their bones. Bisphosphonates are the most commonly used osteoporosis drugs in patients who are found to be at high risk of developing fractures in their bones. Common side effects of medications containing bisphosphonates include abdominal pain, nausea, and heartburn. Intravenous (intravenous) derivatives of the drug may be preferred in patients experiencing such problems.
The first of the other options used for treatment is monoclonal antibody drugs. These are drugs that are given subcutaneously every 6 months, and since discontinuation of the drug may cause some complications, it should be preferred in patients who can use this drug for a long time. Hormone-related therapies are also among the applications that can be preferred for the treatment of osteoporosis. Estrogen supplements, which are used immediately after menopause, can have positive effects on the preservation of bone mass. However, due to the use of estrogen-containing drugs, the risk of breast and endometrial cancers, blood clotting disorders and heart diseases increases, so this treatment should be recommended only in patients with low bone density even in the premenopausal period and who have a genetic predisposition for osteoporosis, considering the profit-loss relationship. The use of drugs containing “raloxifene”, which mimics the positive effects of estrogen on bone formation, and testosterone replacement therapies for men are also among the hormone-related osteoporosis treatments. In addition to these, some drugs that support bone formation can also be prescribed during the treatment process.
If you have also been diagnosed with osteoporosis or if you have some of the above-mentioned symptoms of osteoporosis, you should immediately apply to a health institution, undergo the necessary examinations and have your bone scans done. Since osteoporosis is a very common disease, you should take care to have your bone health checks regularly, considering that although it does not cause any symptoms at the moment, it may also be present in you and may cause serious problems in later life. By detecting a possible bone resorption problem at an early stage, you can start your treatment process as soon as possible, so you can prevent more serious problems that you may encounter in the future.