The prevalence of osteoporosis is increasing in the United States, and it is estimated that nearly 54 million Americans are at risk for the degenerative bone disease. Osteoporosis is the most common bone disorder, and it is characterized by a decrease in bone density, leading to weak and fragile bones that are more prone to fractures. In 2023, it is estimated that more than 40% of Americans aged 50 and older will have osteoporosis or low bone mass, which puts them at an increased risk for fractures.
Who is at Risk for Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis affects both men and women, but women are at a greater risk. As women age, their risk of developing osteoporosis increases. After menopause, women’s bones become weaker due to a decrease in the hormone estrogen, which plays a role in maintaining bone health. Other factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis include: being over the age of 65; being Caucasian or Asian; having a family history of osteoporosis; having a small, thin frame; being a smoker; having a diet low in calcium; and having a sedentary lifestyle.
What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is known as the “silent disease” because it often has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. A fracture is the most common symptom of osteoporosis, but if the condition is caught early, other symptoms may include: back pain; a gradual loss of height; and an increased curvature of the spine. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with your doctor to get a diagnosis.
How Can I Prevent Osteoporosis?
The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to make lifestyle changes that will help strengthen and maintain your bones. These changes include: eating a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D; exercising regularly; quitting smoking; and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption. Additionally, your doctor may recommend taking a calcium supplement or a medication that is specifically designed to prevent and treat osteoporosis.
What are the Treatments for Osteoporosis?
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are treatments available to help strengthen and maintain your bones. These treatments include: lifestyle changes; calcium and vitamin D supplements; medications; and physical therapy. Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you make certain lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding activities that could increase your risk of a fracture, such as contact sports.
What are the Complications of Osteoporosis?
If left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to serious complications, such as fractures. Osteoporotic fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability, and even death. Additionally, osteoporosis can increase the risk of other health problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, and stroke. It is important to seek treatment for osteoporosis to reduce your risk of these complications.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition that can lead to complications if left untreated. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and to prevent it from progressing. It is important to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and limit your alcohol intake. Additionally, speak to your doctor about taking calcium and vitamin D supplements and/or medications to help protect your bones and reduce your risk of fractures.