Saturday, October 8, 2011


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What is Osteoporosis?

It can happen without warning � you bend over to pick up a pencil that has fallen on the floor and feel a searing pain in your side. Later you learn youve fractured a rib. If youre an older woman, your fracture is most likely the result of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, which means leaky bones, causes bones to become weak and brittle � so brittle that even mild stresses like bending over, lifting a vacuum or coughing can cause a fracture. In most cases, bones weaken when you have low levels of calcium, phosphorous and other minerals in your bones. Osteoporosis can also accompany endocrine disorders or result from excessive use of drugs such as corticosteroids.

A bone without osteoporosis. A bone with osteoporosis

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Signs and Symptoms

In the early stages of bone loss, you usually have no pain or symptoms. But once bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have symptoms that include

· Back pain

· Loss of height over time, with an accompanying stooped posture

· Fracture of the vertebrae, wrists, hips or other bones

Risk factors

· If you are female

· If you are 50 or older

· If you are past menopause

· If your ovaries are removed before you are 45

· IF there is not enough calcium in your diet

· If you have limited exposure to sunlight or insufficient Vitamin D in your diet

· If there is not enough physical

· If there is a family history of osteoporosis

· If you are small-boned

· If you are a smoker

· If you have more than cups a day of coffee, tea or any drinks with caffeine

· If you consistently drink more than glasses of alcohol a day

· If you excess your use of certain medications like cortisone, prednisone, anti-convulsants, thyroid hormone, aluminium containing antacids


There are 4 main steps to prevent osteoporosis. They are

1. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D

. Weight bearing exercises

. A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol use

4. A bone density testing and medications when appropriate

Treatment for Osteoporosis

The aim of treatment is to prevent the development of osteoporosis and to prevent further bone loss in order to decrease the risk of osteoporotic fracture. Today there is a wide range of therapeutic options and several safe and effective pharmacological treatments that have been shown to act quickly and to reduce the risk of fracture by up to 50%. It takes up to one year to be completed. Adequate calcium, vitamin D, appropriate exercise and, in some cases, medication, are important for maintaining bone health. Currently, several treatments, including sex hormone replacement therapy, bisphosphonates (alendronate, risedronate and etidronate) SERMs (raloxifene) and active vitamin D (calcitriol) are approved in Australia in treatment for the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. These medications affect the bone remodelling cycle and are classified as anti-resorptive medications. Bone remodelling consists of two distinct stages bone resorption and bone formation. During resorption, special cells on the bones surface dissolve bone tissue and create small cavities. During formation, other cells fill the cavities with new bone tissue. Usually, bone resorption and bone formation are linked so that they occur in close sequence and remain balanced. When this balance is altered and formation does not match resorption, bone is lost and osteoporosis can occur. Anti-resorptive medications slow, or stop, the bone resorbing portion of the bone-remodelling cycle and have less effect on the bone-forming portion of the cycle. As a result, new formation exceeds bone resorption and bone density can increase.

Other treatments

Sodium fluoride has not been shown to reduce fractures. Although it may increase the bones density, this bone is still not healthy and therefore does not reduce fractures. Anabolic steroids may give some subjective benefit but there is no evidence that it reduces fractures in women. It cannot be expected to have any effect in eugonadal men who have normal levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone.


The cost of treating osteoporosis and the fractures it causes is estimated to be $65 million each year in Australia alone. Long term, hospital and chronic care account for the majority of these costs.

Types of therapy

· Antiresorptive drugs, already available, slow the progressive thinning of bone.

· Bone-building agents help to rebuild the skeleton and are now becoming available or are in the developmental pipeline.

· Non-pharmacological interventions are also very important in reducing the risk of fracture.


One in four women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. One in eight men over 50 also have the disease. However, the disease can strike at any age.



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Encyclopaedia Britannica 18

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