World Osteoporosis Day: Know the signs and symptoms of the silent bone disease

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Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones become weak and brittle because of the loss of mineral density. Even sneezing or a minor fall could lead to fracture when one is suffering from the condition. It is often called a silent disease because there are no symptoms in the early stages and it progresses quietly.

World Osteoporosis Day is celebrated on October 20 across the globe to raise awareness about the disease. The day was first celebrated by United Kingdom’s National Osteoporosis Society in the year 1996. The theme for 2021 is Serve Up Bone Strength.

Dr Rajeev Verma, HOD and Consultant – Joint Replacement And Orthopaedics, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi talks about the early signs of osteoporosis.

ALSO READ: Bone health decoded: Here’s what may cause rapid and severe bone loss

What is Osteoporosis and why it is caused

Healthy bones keep remodelling themselves naturally by eliminating older bones and replacing them with new ones in order to maintain strength. Osteoclasts break down old bones and release minerals into the circulation through a process known as bone resorption and form new bones by a process known as bone ossification or osteogenesis. 

Osteoporosis is caused by an imbalance between bone resorption and bone ossification. Bone reabsorption is greater than bone growth in osteoporosis. After the age of 30, there is an imbalance in skeletal turnover.

Osteoporosis is considered to be a silent disease however, one may watch out for the following signs and symptoms:

Early signs of osteoporosis:

* Due to low mineral density in the bones, the handgrip is weakened.

* Weak and brittle nails may indicate a lack of bone density.

Later-stage symptoms:

Loss of height: As a result of spinal compression induced by weak bones, the person tends to become an inch or more shorter over time.

A small curvature of the spine, leading to stooping or bending forward (kyphosis), may occur as a result of a compression fracture of the spine.

Shortness of breath: A weak bone causes a compression fracture of the spine. A collapsed vertebra puts pressure on the lungs, limiting lung capacity.

Bone fractures: Bone fractures can develop even with a powerful sneeze, cough, or the tiniest twisting of the leg due to weak, brittle, or fragile bones.

Pain in the lower back and neck caused by osteoporosis-related compression fractures of the spine.

It is important to diagnose osteoporosis at an early stage to avoid the complications.

The disease can be managed with medication, making certain lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, and talking supplements. However, non-healing fractures may require surgical management in the form of replacement procedures or spine surgery for compression fractures.

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