Osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bones that increases the risk of unexpected fractures. Some serious consequences of the condition include weakness of bones and risk of bone breakage. In short, we can say that it is a condition characterized by a decrease in the bone density and strength that ultimately result in fragile bones. Osteoporosis literally leads to a porous bone that is compressible like a sponge. This disorder of the skeleton weakens the bone and results in frequent fractures (breaks) in the bones.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between new bone formation and old bone resorption. The body may fail to form new bone sufficiently or too much old bone may be resorbed, or both.
There are two essential minerals calcium and phosphate for normal bone formation. Throughout youth, the body uses these two minerals to produce bones. Calcium is essential for proper functioning of the brain, heart, and other organs. To keep these critical organs functioning, the body reabsorbs calcium stored in the bones to maintain the level of blood calcium. If calcium intake is not sufficient or if the body does not absorb enough calcium from the daily diet, bone production, and bone tissue may suffer. The bones thus become weaker resulting in fragile and brittle bones that can break easily.
Usually, the bone loss occurs over an extended period of years. Often, a person will sustain a fracture before becoming aware of the presence of a disease. By then, the disease can be in its advanced stages and the damage may be serious.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
The following are the risk factors of Osteoporosis-
- According to a study, women are at a greater risk than men, especially women who are thin or have a small frame personality or are of advanced age.
- Osteoporosis is not just an "old woman's disease" although it is more common in white or Asian women who are older than 50 years.
- Women who are abnormal or suffer from an absence of menstrual periods are at a greater risk.
- Eating disorders, smoking a cigarette, low amounts of calcium in the diet, alcohol consumption, heavy inactive lifestyle and use of certain medications are also risk factors.
Early detection of low bone mass or osteoporosis is the most important step for an effective treatment. If osteoporosis is diagnosed, a person can take action to stop the progression of bone loss. It is important to know the risk factors for osteoporosis in order to begin effective prevention or treatment.
Certain factors such as family history of osteoporosis, being female, small body size, and inactive lifestyle are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. If any of above risk factors or other signs of osteoporosis exists, the doctor will recommend measurement of bone mass. The most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis disease are the spine, wrist, and hip. Bone mineral density (BMD) tests often measure the solidness and bone density at those sites, as well as in the heel or hand. Bone mineral density tests are performed just like X-rays. They are noninvasive, painless and safe.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis or you are having a higher risk of breaking a bone, your doctor will suggest medication to strengthen your bones and prevent fractures. Prescribed medicine/drugs play a vital role in managing osteoporosis.
Your doctor will also advise you:
- To take adequate vitamin D, calcium and exercise to strengthen your bone health
- To stop smoking, taking alcohol and change in any lifestyle that may impact your bones
- To monitor any conditions/medications that affects the health of the bone.
Types of Osteoporosis Drugs
Tablets (daily, weekly or monthly): Risedronate (brand name: Actonel, or other generic brands), Alendronate (brand name: Fosamax, or other generic brands), once-yearly intravenous infusion: Zoledronic acid (brand name: Aclasta).
- Bisphosphonates are available for people who have already had a bone fracture caused by osteoporosis. It is taken in order to prevent further fractures. These tablets are also prescribed for older people (over 70) who don’t have a fracture but are at a risk for the same because of their low bone density.
- It is also prescribed for people with low bone density who are taking the corticosteroids (eg: prednisone or cortisone) at a dose of 7.5 mg for minimum 3 months.
6 monthly or half yearly injection: Denosumab (brand name: Prolia)
- Denosumab works in a different way than bisphosphonates but has the same effect of slowing the rate at which the bone is broken down with similar reductions in the risk of bone fracture.
- Denosumab is available for people who have already had any fractures caused by osteoporosis in order to prevent further fractures.
- It is also available for older people (over 70 years) who have not had any fracture but are at great risk because of having low bone density.
3. Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMS)
Daily based tablet: Raloxifene (brand name: Evista)
- Raloxifene acts on bones in a similar way like the hormone oestrogen, slowing bone loss and helping to reduce the risk of spinal fractures in women who have been through menopause.
- This medicine/drug is PBS subsidized for post-menopausal women who have already had a fracture due to osteoporosis in order to prevent further bone fractures. You can also buy osteoporosis drugs from premiumrxdrugs.
Osteoporosis Drugs Side Effects
The ostensible reason behind taking osteoporosis drugs is to decrease the chances that one of your bones will break. However, the intake of the drugs can cause a breakage.
Atypical femoral fractures are the most known break associated with osteoporosis drugs. As we all know femur is the strongest bone in our body. Under normal conditions, it does not simply snap. But when it has been made brittle and hard by drugs, it can break even when you are doing simple, everyday things.
The list of debilitating and most annoying side effects of the drugs also include blurred vision, joint pain, nausea, flatulence, muscle pain and abdominal cramping. So, before taking these medications, you must consult your doctor about the dosage and other related information briefly.