The Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis






Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is characterized by increased susceptibility to fractures. In the condition, the BMD (bone mineral density) is diminished, the variety and amount of proteins in the bone is altered and the bone microarchitecture deteriorates. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoporosis is a condition whereby the BMD is more than 2.5 standard deviations below the mean peak bone mass as measured by DXA. You should know the risk factors, the signs and the symptoms of osteoporosis as this will help you take preventative measures and seek early treatment respectively.

One of the major symptoms of osteoporosis is osteoporotic fractures, also called fragility fractures. These are fractures that occur in a situation where a normal, healthy person would not normally get a fracture. The most common fragility fractures are in the hip, rib, vertebral column and wrist. Some of these fractures come with chronic, debilitating pain, but some are asymptomatic. Vertebral collapse, also called compression fracture, is characterized by sudden back pain and radiculopathic pain. Other symptoms of osteoporosis, resulting from multiple vertebral fractures, are loss of height, stooped posture and chronic pain.

Another of the symptoms of osteoporosis is susceptibility to falls. Symptoms of osteoporosis also include loss of teeth, leg cramps, especially at night, constant tiredness, jaw bone density loss, bone tenderness, discomfort in the neck, inexplicable or sudden severe back pains, pain on abdominals and brittle fingernails.

Risk factors for osteoporosis can be categorized into modifiable risks and non-modifiable risks. Alcohol consumption is actually advantageous in that it leads to increased bone density, but excessive consumption increases the risk of fractures. Vitamin D deficiency which is common in the aged increases the production of the PTH (Parathyroid Hormone) which is responsible for bone loss since it increases bone absorption. It is believed that tobacco smoking inhibits osteoblast activity and increases exogenous oestrogen breakdown. Malnutrition is an obvious cause of osteoporosis because nutrition plays a complex and important role in maintaining good bone density.
The risk factors that have been identified include low dietary calcium (or phosphorus), zinc, magnesium, boron, copper, iron, fluoride and vitamins A, C, D, E and K. A diet that is high in animal protein causes osteoporosis since it leads to an increased level of urinary calcium. Inactivity and being underweight leads to increased bone loss, but endurance training in women also leads to reduced bone density since it suppresses menstruation and amenorrhea production. Soft drinks that contain phosphoric acid further increase the risk. Such heavy metals as cadmium and lead also increase the risk.

The most important non-modifiable risk factor is age advancement (in both women and men). You are at a greater risk if you are female, especially following menopause since this is characterized by oestrogen deficiency. Men who have low testosterone levels are at risk. Caucasians and people with Asian ancestry are genetically predisposed. You are at a greater risk if you have a family history of osteoporosis or fractures.

Understanding the risk factor of osteoporosis will help you take preventative measures if you are at risk. Visit, to Know the signs & symptoms of osteoporosis which will help in early detection.