World Osteoporosis Day is observed every year on October 20 to raise awareness about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Osteoporosis is a common bone disease characterized by weakened bones, making them fragile and prone to fractures. While it is more prevalent in older adults, it is essential to take preventive measures early in life to maintain strong and healthy bones throughout your lifetime.
But, before learning about the treatment and prevention, let’s know what osteoporosis is:
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a silent and potentially debilitating condition characterised by weakened bones, making them fragile and prone to fractures.
Dr. K R Anil Kumar Reddy, who is a DNB Orthopaedics, MCh – Trauma & Orthopaedics (Edinburgh), FIJR (UPENN), and a Consultant Orthopaedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon said, “Osteoporosis is a medical condition that impacts approximately 20% of women and 10% of men aged 50 and above in India. It is characterized by the progressive weakening of bones leading to fragility fractures in hip spine & wrist commonly. Early diagnosis and appropriate management are essential to reduce the incidence of fragility fractures & resulting morbidity burden on patient & family .Apart from the medical management Lifestyle modifications are crucial in its management and fracture prevention, encompassing a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, with sources including dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods. Regular exercises like walking, swimming & yoga help in promoting bone strength, improving joint flexibility & reducing fracture incidence.”
Risk Factors Of Osteoporosis:
Dr Ramneek Mahajan, who is a Senior Director – Orthopaedics & Head – Joint Reconstruction (Hip & Knee) Unit, at Max Institute of Muskuloskeletal Sciences and Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket said, “Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the strength and resilience of our bones, making them vulnerable to fractures, especially in areas like the hip, wrist, or spine. It occurs when the natural balance between the breakdown and formation of bone is disrupted. There are both non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors for osteoporosis.”
Talking about the risk factors, he said, “Non-modifiable risk factors include gender, age, body size, ethnicity, and family history. Unfortunately, we can’t change these factors. Women are at a higher risk due to hormonal changes after menopause, and as we age, our bones naturally become thinner and weaker. Additionally, smaller, thin-boned individuals and certain ethnic groups face an elevated risk.”
“On the other hand, there are factors we can actively address to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. These include sex hormone levels, with low oestrogen in women and low testosterone in men potentially leading to the condition. Conditions like anorexia nervosa, which are characterized by an irrational fear of weight gain, also increase the risk. Ensuring a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D throughout our lifetime is crucial in preventing bone loss. Be mindful of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids and some anticonvulsants, as they can reduce bone density with long-term use. An inactive lifestyle or extended bed rest can weaken bones, so regular physical activity is essential. Smoking and excessive alcohol intake not only harm our hearts and lungs but also contribute to bone loss,” he added.
Symptoms Of Osteoporosis:
Dr Aparna Bhanushali, who is the Head of Growth & Scientific Support, at HaystackAnalytics said, “The disease may not cause noticeable symptoms as it progresses slowly, but some of the symptoms including frequent fractures, chronic back aches, loss of height due to bone compression and stooped posture can be an alarming sign and diagnosed through bone density tests and physical examination by an orthopedic doctor.”
Preventive Measures For Osteoporosis:
Dr. Gaurav Gupta who is the Director – Orthopaedics, Joint Replacement, Arthroscopy and Sports Injury, at Max Healthcare, Dehradun suggested the following:
- Being Physically Active: Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining bone density and strength. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing, and resistance training stimulate bone formation. Aim for at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises most days of the week.
- Diet Rich in Calcium: Calcium is the building block of bones. Include dairy products, leafy greens, almonds, and fortified foods in your diet to ensure an adequate calcium intake. For those who can’t meet their calcium requirements through diet alone, supplements may be necessary.
- Stop Smoking/Excessive Alcohol Use: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can weaken bones and increase the risk of fractures. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake are essential steps in osteoporosis prevention.
- Good Sunlight Exposure: Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Spend time in the sun to allow your body to produce vitamin D naturally. If sunlight exposure is limited, consider vitamin D supplements under medical guidance.
- Regular Check-ups: Periodic bone density testing can help detect early signs of osteoporosis. This is especially important for postmenopausal women, as hormonal changes can affect bone density. Your healthcare provider can recommend appropriate supplements or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) if necessary. Biosimilars, which mimic the body’s natural hormones, may also be an option.
Lifestyle Changes Required To Manage Osteoporosis:
Dr. Mickey Mehta, who is a holistic health guru and spiritual life coach said, “When bones don’t remain bold enough to take the weight of your own being, when bones become brittle and cannot allow you to anchor within your frame and peacefully settle, that’s the time you must know that the bones have eroded, corroded from inside. They become weak. The neglect of food and fitness results into osteoporosis.”
He further went on to suggest the following:
- Don’t get into oral supplementation straight away. Instead, get into sensible supplementation of natural sources.
- Feed your bones with everything they need like sunshine vitamin (Vitamin D), Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin C, Potassium, and Vitamin K-2 which is the most important for bone health as it helps to reduce calcium loss and helps to bind minerals with the bones.
- Certain calcium-rich foods, green cruciferous like broccoli, spinach, chinese cabbage, kale, beetroot, sweet potatoes, mustard greens (sarson ka saag), nuts like sesame seeds, walnuts which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, raisins, prunes should be added to your meals.
- Dairy sources coming from organic cow milk are a rich source of calcium too.
- Foods like legumes and beans contain beneficial nutrients like calcium. But they also contain substances called phytates which interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the calcium. To reduce the level of phytates, soaking beans in water for 4-5 hours is important.
- Caffeine-containing drinks like coffee, tea, and soft drinks (sodas) should be avoided as they may decrease calcium absorption which contributes to bone loss.
- Packaged foods, processed foods, and foods rich in salt should be avoided as they cause the body to lose calcium which may lead to bone loss. Judicious picking of food is a must and should be practiced by everyone.
- Ayurvedic herbs and traditional medicines like Ashwagandha, turmeric, and red clover help in bone strengthening and should be added (under supervision) for bone health.
- Strengthening bone density is important for good bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Yoga is one such way of strengthening. Postures like Virabhadrasana and Tadasana are very good, jazz plie and a Japanese karate stance named, Kibadachi (horse stance) works well.
- Then there are other exercises such as forward and backward lunges, half squats, and knee push-ups that are very good for strengthening the bones. Exercises that increase balance and strength can help to lessen the chance of falling.
- Besides, walking, jogging, dancing and resistance training are all weight-bearing exercises for strong muscles which helps in the development of strong bones and helps to maintain bone density.
[Disclaimer: The information provided in the article, including treatment suggestions shared by doctors, is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.]
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