What is Osteoporosis and How Can It Be Treated?
Osteoporosis is like the new age diabetes and blood pressure. It’s creating a significant amount of disability, especially in people above 50 years of age. In fact, 1 in 3 women after 50, is at some point going to sustain an osteoporotic fracture. Same goes for men, 1 in 5 men after 50 are at some time going to have an osteoporotic fracture. Hip, spine and wrist are the three most common sites where osteoporosis-related disabilities come into picture.
In fact, a study conducted by the International Osteoporosis Foundation, in 2010, came out with a shocking result. Although the incidents of osteoporosis in India is less as compared to the Western counterpart, the average age at which osteoporosis presents here is much lower than what is seen in the Western population.
Osteoporosis is a condition which significantly affects your bone health, so what essentially happens is you have to imagine our body to be like a… the bones to be like a wall, okay. Bones to be like a wall, the cement is essentially the calcium, okay, and the bricks form the scaffolding, right. When osteoporosis happens, it’s not that the body loses cement, what happens is the body loses the bricks as well as cement. So, the things where people say that “I am taking calcium, I will never get osteoporosis or I don’t have… my blood calcium levels are normal,” that’s completely wrong. Osteoporosis is not calcium deficiency, osteoporosis is a generalized disease wherein the bone mineral is reduced and hence the calcium-retaining capacity of the body goes down.
Osteoporosis per se has no cure, so you can just manage it; hence prevention of osteoporosis is the best way to take it forward. So, the best way of identifying osteoporosis is by doing a scan called as DEXA scan. DEXA scan of bone density is a scan wherein the machine picks up the amount of calcium which is there in your bones and it is compared to normal individual.
Lot of treatment options is available. So, all you have to do is prevent fractures. Now, with advances in the medical sciences, you have got different types of treatment which can be used. You have got Teriparatide treatment, which is a parathyroid hormone replacement therapy. You have got denosumab which increases your bone mineral mass. You have got bisphosphonate which prevents osteoporosis. So, the best way is any male above the age of 60 and any female above the age of 50 should undergo a DEXA scan, get the baseline level of the bone density, consult your clinician, he will identify if you require any active management of osteoporosis and if needed, they will start you on the treatment.
As I told you earlier, there is no real cure for osteoporosis, the best thing that you can do is you can prevent it. The best form of prevention for osteoporosis is using the 4 method: you should have a good diet, a good diet involving calcium and vitamin D, just taking calcium without vitamin D or just having vitamin D supplements without calcium is not going to be effective. Together calcium and vitamin D will help good absorption of calcium from the gut into the blood and from the blood into the bones. The second part is doing exercises, exercise increase and improve the muscle mass, it also stimulates bone production. So, regular exercises, weight training and endurance building exercises are what you have to look for. The third thing that is going to help you with osteoporosis is to gain body weight. Nowadays, people are absolutely concentrating on losing body weight.