All you need to know about the osteoporosis condition
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Osteoporosis used to be a word that was only used by physicians, but nowadays the term has become widely known, and a wealth of information is available to the general public about the condition and about osteoporosis treatment in general.
Available advice comes both from well qualified researchers and physicians, and from lower quality sources such as newspapers and magazines; the quality of articles in the latter media ranges from superb, well thought out information on osteoporosis therapies, to downright stupid and possibly dangerous information about the osteoporosis condition.
The aims of the 'Osteoporosis Advice' site are to bring you high quality informatative facts and tips about the prevention, management and treatment of the condition.
The terminology that is associated with osteoporosis was initially established in the nineteenth century by German physicians and was further defined in 1941 by Fuller Albright as ‘a condition in which there is lack of bone tissue, but that tissue which remains is fully calcified’.
A more general definition is that osteoporosis symptoms are of a systemic skeletal disease that is characterised by low bone mass and a deterioration of the micro-architecture of bone tissue that leads to bones becoming more fragile, increasing the probability of fractures.
Osteoporosis is generally considered as secondary to other conditions and there are three major classifications that are used when defining osteoporosis:
1. Osteopenia (low bone mass) is when the bone mineral density is between 1 and 2.5 standard deviations below that of young adults.
2. Osteoporosis occurs when bone density falls below 2.5 standard deviations of young adults.
3. Established osteoporosis occurs when a fracture has occurred as a consequence of the condition.
Now that the background has been covered we are able to classify the condition into osteoporosis with and without identifiable causes.
Bone mass reaches its apex in the thirties and forties, and in the majority, though not all of the population, bone loss occurs with age. Some of the identifiable causes associated with the condition include hormone deficiency (vitamin D deficiency (vitamin D rich foods); male and female hypogonadism); hormone excess (hyperprolactinaemia, excess glucocorticoid, hyperthyroidism); nutritional factors (digestive abnormalities, malabsorbtion syndromes); Renal bone disease; inflammatory disorders (crohns disease, rheumatoid arthritis); immobilisation and osteoporosis caused through neoplastic bone marrow disorders. Non identifiable conditions include idiopathic juvenile and adult, and senile osteoporosis.
Given the ageing population of the world more women than ever (and a significant number of men) are susceptible to the many osteoporosis risk factors. In addition to the pains and risks associated with the condition, sufferers may have to go through great personal challenges such as loss of income, extended immobility and regular costly appointments with doctors during their osteoporosis treatments.
It is hoped that the informative osteoporosis advice pages will help to give you information that will lead to a fuller understanding of the condition. Topics covered on this site include osteoporosis treatment medicines, symptoms, risk factors, the menopause, investigations into bone fractures, prevention of osteoporosis, management of the condition, calcium guide, exercise, hormone replacement therapy and osteoporosis history.
A full osteoporosis definition can be found elsewhere on the site. Suffice to say that osteoporosis is a skeletal condition that is associated with low bone mineral density and low quality bones, and hence a decrease in bone strength. This weakening of the bone leaves a sufferer susceptible to an increased risk of fracture if falling in an accident.
It is a fairly easy process for a doctor to measure the bone mineral density of a patient. The bone mineral density is defined as a relative scale of bone loss based upon the density of a healthy young, Caucasian adult reference.
When having a bone mineral density (BMD) test, what is measured is the difference in standard deviations between the person tested and the reference. If a bone density test shows a BMD T score of between -1 and -2.5 then the person is diagnosed as having osteopenia; if the person does not take steps to rectify the loss of BMD (by exercise, diet or medication) then they are at risk of developing osteoporosis. If a patient as a BMD T score of -2.5 or less then they have full blow osteoporosis. With every decrease in BMD T score of 1, it is estimated that the risk of suffering a bone fracture doubles.
It is well known that bone density decreases as people age (this occurs in both men and women), especially at the time of the menopause. The biology of this phenomenon is discussed elsewhere on the site, as are preventative methods that may help to maintain bone density closer to the norm. The development of osteoporosis or osteopenia is a major concern as it is estimated that as many as four out of every ten women over the age of 50 in the USA (and most likely in other western countries) will suffer a bone fracture, to the wrist, spine or hip in their lifetime.
It has been suggested that women who suffer from osteopenia have a 1.8 fold increase in the likelihood of suffering a bone fracture in comparison with a non-osteopenia person, whilst this increases to four times the risk if a person has osteoporosis. Once an elderly person has suffered a fracture, it can have a very negative impact upon their standard of living and may lead to permanent disability. This is because it is generally more difficult for an elderly person to recover from injury.