Our body might lose too much bone with increasing age. It may also make less and less bone as we age. Sometimes both these conditions might exist in one person. This makes the bones weaker and susceptible to breakage. A fall, a bump or in advanced cases, even a sneeze can result in breakage of bones. This condition is termed osteoporosis.
Healthy bone looks like a honeycomb when viewed under a microscope. Porous bones, or in other words, bones affected by osteoporosis may seem to have an abnormal tissue structure characterised by larger holes and spaces, caused by lost mass and density.
The Condition Is Quite Common
Osteoporosis is a medical condition that is more common than we may believe. Statistics show that at least one in two women, and one in four men who are 50 years and older are prone to lower bone density and resultant breakage of bones. In the United States alone, more than 50 million people are reported to have osteoporosis.
The Condition Is Quite Serious
The most serious complication of osteoporosis is the breaking of a major bone in the body due to low bone density. For example, a broken hip bone can prove fatal to many older patients due to complications of the fracture or the surgery to fix it. Patients who survive the fall may undergo physical changes like loss of height or a hunched posture. Serious bone fractures would also affect mobility, which in some cases may lead to a feeling of isolation and resultant depression.
The Condition Is Very Costly
The breakage of bones may require elaborate and invasive surgical procedures. The osteoporosis treatment and recovery may take long and would typically include physical therapy and long-term nursing care at home. All of these involve a high cost and may end up making the management and care of this condition an expensive affair.
Often called a silent disease, osteoporosis may progress without any noticeable symptoms until it is too late. The visible signs are usually a slowly progressing curve of the upper back or a decrease in height. A more pronounced sign of osteoporosis is the breakage of bones. All of this happens after the bones have become less dense and brittle.
As bone density decreases with age, the possibility of weaker bones breaking increases. It is ideal for people above 50 who have suffered an unexpected fracture, to undergo a bone density test to determine the incidence of osteoporosis. Early diagnosis and treatment would help considerably in managing the condition and preventing its progress.