Other risk factors for osteoporosis:
Although the exact medical cause for osteoporosis is unknown, a number of factors contribute to osteoporosis, including the following:
- aging - Bones become less dense and weaker with age.
- race - Caucasian and Asian women are most at risk, although all races may develop the disease.
- body weight - Obesity is associated with a higher bone mass, therefore people who weigh less and have less muscle are more at risk for developing osteoporosis.
- lifestyle factors - The following lifestyle factors may increase a person's risk of osteoporosis:
- physical inactivity
- excessive alcohol use
- dietary calcium and vitamin D deficiency
- certain medications
- family history of bone disease
In 2006, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) reviewed and updated its guidelines on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Among its updated recommendations, NAMS suggests that women's lifestyle practices should be reviewed regularly by their physicians, and that practices that help to reduce the risk for osteoporosis should be encouraged. Also, NAMS recommends that a woman's risk for falls should be evaluated at least once a year after menopause has occurred. An additional recommendation is that a woman's height and weight should be measured annually, and she should be assessed for kyphoses and back pain.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because persons with osteoporosis may not develop any symptoms. Some may have pain in their bones and muscles, particularly in their back. Occasionally, a collapsed vertebra may cause severe pain, decrease in height, or deformity in the spine.
The symptoms of osteoporosis may resemble other bone disorders or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How osteoporosis is diagnosed:
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for osteoporosis may include the following:
- family medical history
- x-rays (skeletal) - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- bone density test (Also called bone densitometry.) - measurement of the mass of bone in relation to its volume to determine the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- blood tests (to measure serum calcium and potassium levels)
The effects of this disease can best be managed with early diagnosis and treatment.
More about bone densitometry:
Bone densitometry testing is primarily performed to identify persons with osteoporosis and osteopenia (decreased bone mass) so that the appropriate medical therapy and treatment can be implemented. Early treatment helps to prevent future bone fractures. It may also be recommended for persons who have already fractured and are considered at risk for osteoporosis.
The bone densitometry test determines the bone mineral density (BMD). Your BMD is compared to two norms - healthy young adults (your T-score) and age-matched (your Z-score).
First, your BMD result is compared with the BMD results from healthy 25- to 35-year-old adults of your same sex and ethnicity. The standard deviation (SD) is the difference between your BMD and that of the healthy young adults. This result is your T-score. Positive T-scores indicate the bone is stronger than normal; negative T-scores indicate the bone is weaker than normal.
In general, the risk for bone fracture doubles with every SD below normal. Thus, a person with a BMD of 1 SD below normal (T-score of -1) has twice the risk for bone fracture as a person with a normal BMD. A person with a T-score of -2 has four times the risk for bone fracture as a person with a normal BMD. When this information is known, people with a high risk for bone fracture can be treated with the goal of preventing future fractures.
Secondly, your BMD is compared to an age-matched norm. This is called your Z-score. Z-scores are calculated in the same way, but the comparisons are made to someone of your age, sex, race, height, and weight.
Treatment for osteoporosis:
Specific treatment for osteoporosis will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
The goals of managing osteoporosis are to decrease pain, prevent fractures, and minimize further bone loss. Some of the methods used to treat osteoporosis are also the methods to help prevent it from developing, including the following:
- Maintain an appropriate body weight.
- Increase walking and other weight-bearing exercises.
- Minimize caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Stop smoking.
- Maintain an adequate intake of calcium through diet and supplements. Vitamin D is also necessary because it facilitates the absorption of calcium.
- Prevent falls in the elderly to prevent fractures (i.e., install hand railings, or assistive devices in the bathroom, shower, etc.).
- Consult your physician regarding a medication regimen.
Rehabilitation for osteoporosis:
An osteoporosis rehabilitation program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient, depending upon the type and severity of the disease. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of the program.
The goal of rehabilitation is to help the patient to return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life - physically, emotionally, and socially. The focus of rehabilitation is to decrease pain, help prevent fractures, and minimize further bone loss.
In order to help reach these goals, osteoporosis rehabilitation programs may include the following:
- exercise programs and conditioning to increase weight bearing and physical fitness
- pain management techniques
- nutritional counseling to improve calcium and vitamin D intake and decrease caffeine and alcohol intake
- use of assistive devices to improve safety at home patient and family education, especially prevention of falls
The osteoporosis rehabilitation team:
Osteoporosis rehabilitation programs can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the osteoporosis rehabilitation team, including any/all of the following:
- orthopaedist/orthopaedic surgeon
- rehabilitation nurse
- physical therapist
- occupational therapist
- social worker
- recreational therapist
- vocational therapist