Osteoporosis is a systemic disease of the skeleton for which a reduction of bone mass density is typical. With the reduction of bone mass density, bones become more fragile and more easily break and also the risk of fractures at minimum loads is enhanced. It can take many years for osteoporosis to develop and without any visual symptoms or pain. That is why osteoporosis is called “the silent disease”.
How does osteoporosis develop and how can it be detected?
Bone is alive and is renewing constantly. Somewhere up to the age of 30, the amount of bone tissue is constantly increasing, the next ten years remains the same and then it begins to decrease. Partial reduction of bone tissue is a normal process of ageing. However, bones should not become so fragile as not being able to bear normal everyday loads. Since osteoporosis is present without any symptoms or pain for a long time, it is difficult to detect it without a special X-ray examination called DENSITOMETRY or measuring bone density. The examination is not harmful or painful and takes about 20 minutes. It is performed at the recommendation of your doctor or at your request. It is recommended for women to have their bone density measured for the first time at the beginning of the menopause since they have none of their own estrogen due to the loss of ovary functionality which is the main factor in regulating bone density. The loss of bone mineral density is greatest in the first five years after the beginning of the menopause, namely 5% per year (picture 1). Other factors for the risk of osteoporosis exist, of course.
Other factors for the risk of osteoporosis:
hormonal changes (early menopause >45 years of age, too early menopause >40 years of age)
lifestyle (smoking, excessive coffee and alcohol consumption)
poor nutrition (not enough calcium and vitamin D included, too much saturated fat)
endocrine gland dysfunctions
certain medicines (cortizones, chemotherapies and radiotherapies for carcinomas)
lack of physical activity
physique and heritability (thin bones and tiny physique, very pale skin tone)
What are the symptoms and consequences of the disease?
The first osteoporosis symptoms are mostly vertebral collapse (most often visible as back pain), changed posture (bending of the spine) and a lower body height (picture 2). When osteoporosis is in a very advanced state only minimum loads or falls can cause bone fractures of wrists or hips. A hip fracture is the most dangerous osteoporosis fracture from which a third of patients die in the first year after the fracture, the other third never walk again and only a third are mobile again with certain problems. Recuperation is usually really long-term and it is much more difficult for the patient to lead a normal independent life due to their reduced mobility.
What to do next when osteoporosis is detected?
The best way to prevent and to treat osteoporosis is its timely detection. The older we get, the more difficult it is for our organism to renew itself and treatment takes much longer. When a doctor prescribes medications they must be taken regularly and a follow-up measurement must be made after one year since the beginning of the treatment to see its effect. If the follow-up measurement is done using the same device also a comparable analysis of the results can be made. Thus it can be accurately determined by what per cent the bone mineral density is better or worse according to the previous test result. According to these results the doctors sets guidelines for further measures.
Take care of a proper posture and mobility!
It is very important that we take care that our posture is correct during our everyday work, especially when lifting heavy loads or working sitting down or standing. Regular physical activity is also one of the ways to prevent osteoporosis. It needs to be carefully planned and executed even when the disease has already developed. Also with better mobility, less falls and less fractures will occur. Take a walk in the countryside and enjoy the sunshine. Do not forget about mental activity which keeps the spirit flexible and so makes us physically more agile. Eat a lot of food rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Scanning and BMD analysis of the entire body, analysis of the composition of the body tissues.
The examination is highly recommended for sports people since it can assess the amount of muscle mass. Muscle mass and fat correlation can be determined for diets and training programmes. On the basis of this result, the nutritionist or the trainer can prepare a special diet or training programme. After the programme is completed the analysis can be repeated and the programme’s success assessed.
Where to go to measure bone mineral density?
All the measurements can be taken during an appointment at the outpatient gynaecological clinic of Dr Franić in the Primary Health Care Centre in Rogaška Slatina, Celjska cesta 10.
– Wednesday from 3pm to 7.30pm
– Thursday from 8am to 12.30pm
or by appointment.
You can make an appointment any day by telephone +386 (0)3 581 5550. Measurements are for self-funding patients.
Private gynecological and obstetrical clinic,
Damir Franić, MD, PhD. specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology.