Osteoporosis affects men and women as they get older, but women are five times more likely to develop the condition. One of the challenges of osteoporosis is that it doesn’t cause symptoms until you suddenly suffer a fracture. The team at Endocrine & Diabetes Plus Clinic, Dr. Jongoh Kim and Dr. Libu Varughese in Houston, Texas, has extensive experience treating osteoporosis so you can stay active and healthy. If you have questions about osteoporosis or you’d like to schedule an immediate screening, call the office or use the online booking feature.
Osteoporosis Q & A
What is osteoporosis and how does it develop?
Osteoporosis occurs when bone mass declines. As a result, your bones become weak, brittle, and susceptible to fractures that are often slow to heal.
Your bones reach their peak mass in your late 20s. Throughout adulthood, your bones continuously eliminate old or damaged bone and replace it with new bone. This process, called remodeling, keeps your bones strong as long as the bone that’s lost is fully replaced.
Around middle age, bone loss begins to outpace bone production and your bone density decreases. While this affects both women and men, women’s risk significantly accelerates at menopause.
What causes osteoporosis?
In addition to the natural imbalance created by bone remodeling, osteoporosis can be caused by:
- Lack of calcium and vitamin D
- Long-term use of corticosteroids
- Thyroid problems
- Low levels of estrogen or testosterone
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and rheumatoid arthritis may also increase your risk for osteoporosis.
What symptoms develop due to osteoporosis?
Typically you won’t experience any signs or symptoms of osteoporosis until the condition weakens your bones enough to cause a fracture. In severe cases of osteoporosis, you can sustain a fracture from a forceful sneeze or by lifting a light object.
Osteoporosis causes two unique types of fractures:
Fragility fracture, or low-trauma fracture
This type of fracture occurs during a fall from standing height or less. In other words, your bones break from pressure that wouldn’t harm a healthy bone. Fragility fractures most often affect the hip and wrist, where they can cause pain, swelling, and inability to use the affected area.
Vertebral compression fracture
Compression fractures occur when a bone collapses because it can’t support the weight it normally carries. Osteoporotic compression fractures most often occur in your spine and frequently affect multiple vertebrae. Symptoms of a compression fracture are sudden back pain and limited spinal movement.
You may lose height as vertebrae flatten. It’s also common for vertebrae to collapse in the front while maintaining their normal height in the back of the bone. This causes the middle of your back to become rounded, a condition called a dowager’s hump.
How is osteoporosis treated?
The team treats osteoporosis with calcium and vitamin D supplements to boost bone production, along with medications including bisphosphonates to prevent bone loss. You may also consider hormone replacement therapy to restore normal levels of estrogen or testosterone.
To learn whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis, schedule an appointment to be seen immediately by calling Endocrine & Diabetes Plus Clinic or booking online.