What is Osteoporosis?
A medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.
Osteoporosis literally means "porous" bone.
It is a bone disease that causes the body to lose too much bone making the bones brittle and weak. The body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue. With osteoporosis, new bone creation doesn't keep up with old bone removal. Many people have no symptoms until they have a bone fracture.
For informational purposes only. Consult your local medical authority for advice.
Sources: Mayo Clinic and others.
What is Osteoporosis?
Have you ever gone walking on a beach, picking up the occasional shell for a closer inspection? Some of the shells are thick and heavy – these are the ones I enjoy trying to skip off the tops of frosty waves like rocks in a creek having a party. Inversely, there are some shells that I find, so thin, they are almost translucent in their delicate substance. These are beautiful in their fragility but extremely dangerous for the clam or other sea creature that used to call that shell home. The thicker, rock-like shell has a density that emphasizes how a sea creature should “be so lucky” to call that stable, safe place it’s home. When looking at our own bones, we will be somewhere on that density spectrum, much like these polar opposite shells.
The word osteoporosis, literally means “Porous bone.” Outside of genetics, it is suggested that our natural bone health is first determined by the health practices we employ during our adolescent years spent forming these bones. For instance, a girl who has an eating disorder in the prime of her bone growth, intaking less of the nutrients required for healthy growth, could be more inclined to osteoporosis prematurely. A boy the same age, possibly even eating fast food at every meal, might be forming steel-like density in his bones because of the constant pounding on a field in a contact sport or running.
Outside of these adolescent years and genetics, experts suggest healthy habits and physical activity play a part in building better bones. Whether a runner with a daily running habit or a sedentary businessman taking supplements that assist in bone density, both individuals are active in increasing bone health, possibly without even being aware of it. These simple preventative strategies, and many more, have been suggested as heavy deterrents of bone density decay. But isn't it the simple things that we brush over most easily when considering our personal health? After all, if it could be as simple as asking your doctor for a bone density test to start the conversation of where you are on the spectrum, surely the disease can't be that bad? That is too easy. Or if it is a matter of taking supplements and regular exercises as a deterrent between positive scans, that (again!) seems too easy. Thus, the conversation of bone health often takes a backseat simply because decay of bones is silent...and of those who have the disease, it is often times only known when a bone-breaking event occurs. What follows in conversation is dwindling consideration in advance of the disease for far too many...needless suffering because of a silent disease.
Statistics say that men are more likely to have osteoporosis than prostate cancer. If I ask a man if he has had his prostate checked at his last exam, he will invariably tell me “Oh yes, we do that every year without fail.” But if I ask that same man if he spoke with his doctor about the chances of him getting osteoporosis, much less engaging in a bone density scan to test his own current bone health, the answer has most often been answered with a ”No…was I supposed to? Isn’t that something that older women get, not men? Wouldn’t my doctor bring it up if it was important?”
Just the simple act of bringing up your bone health with your physician allows you to have conversations about how you can guard against decreasing density and find out where you are on the spectrum (a bone scan) in the process. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. And those who break an osteoporitic bone are rarely the same afterwards.
The disease of osteoporosis is devastating and most experts suggest it is highly treatable if not preventable. So, why do we spend our days talking about osteoporosis? Because it is fiercely tragic in health implications, understated in prevention solutions and overlooked by most...it is a disease screaming for attention in every doctor's visit. Please engage with your physician about your bone health today!