Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease of the skeletal system. Bone mass and density is decreased putting those who suffer from the condition at an increased risk of fracture.
Osteoporosis is often referred to as the silent disease because there are no visible signs or symptoms of bone loss.
There is no single cause for Osteoporosis. There are several risk factors that have been identified and associated with the disease. Some of these factors cannot be changed while there are others that can. Risk factors include age, gender, ethnicity, body type and family history.
Other risk factors include low estrogen levels in women and low testosterone in men, certain medications, inactivity, smoking, alcohol, anorexia, and low intake of calcium and Vitamin D. While there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are several medications available for treatment.
Treatment of osteoporosis involves several aspects, including proper screening and diagnosis, medication, nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes. The primary goal of treatment of osteoporosis is to reduce the risk of fractures.
Of course the first and most important treatment of osteoporosis is prevention. For those who already have osteoporosis making lifestyle changes can aid in the treatment and prevention of further bone loss and prevent fractures. It may be necessary to take dietary supplements to increase the amounts of Calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium and other minerals that are important to bone health.
Resistance exercises and weight bearing exercise can also help to strengthen the bones and improve balance. Patients who have osteoporosis are also strongly encouraged to avoid tobacco and alcohol. When lifestyle changes are not enough, medication may be prescribed. Today these medications have been shown to be a safe and effective method of preventing further bone loss and act fairly quickly to do so.
Bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, Actonel, and the new once monthly Boniva are the first line of defense against osteoporotic fractures and are prescribed most often. These types of drugs slow the rate of bone breakdown to help maintain bone mass by inhibiting the osteoclast, the cell responsible for bone breakdown. As the bone remodeling cycle is slowed, formation and resorption are decreased.Calcitonin sold under the trade name Miacalcin, also inhibits the function of the osteoclasts slowing the rate of bone loss.
It has also been shown and also decreases pain associated with osteoporosis fractures. It is used as a nasal spray. A similar drug given as an injection, Teriparatide contains a portion of human parathyroid hormone. It primarily regulates calcium and phosphate metabolism in bones, which promotes new bone formation and leads to increased bone density. Estrogen or Hormone Replacement Therapy were initially indicated for treatment of the symptoms of menopause but have shown to help control the balance between the breakdown and renewal of bone tissue thereby reducing the amount of bone loss and protecting against fracture.
Raloxifene is a type of medication called a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator, or SERM. It is a newer type of medication with effects similar to that of estrogen in increasing bone mass but without the risks often associated with estrogen therapy.