Osteoporosis Vs. Osteomalacia : What Separates Them?

man suffering from wrist pain

Almost 200 million people all over the world are beaten down by the unforgiving disease, Osteoporosis. As per the statistics put out by the International osteoporosis foundation, 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 and, 1 in 5 men worldwide, will experience difficulties due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. Now that is a big number!

Most of the people out there are confused between Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia. They are different in their own ways, and can be suppressed and controlled with different preventive methods.

We will be focusing on clearing the air around them and give you informed news about the same.

First, let us run through them.

Osteoporosis Osteomalacia
Causes the bone to become brittle Causes the bones to soften
The bones of the hip and spin are more affected The load bearing bones are more affected
This is caused by the onset of age Occurs when you have vitamin D and calcium deficiency
Best combated by weight training and diet Best combated by having vitamin D rich foods
Elderly Woman of Asian & Caucasian most prone Children in the age group 5-13 years are most prone
Genetics plays a vital role is deciding susceptibility Genetics is rarely the reason of osteomalacia

What Is Osteoporosis?

It is a bone disease that makes the bones weak and brittle. The brittleness of the bone is so prominent, that a mild fall that you would otherwise dust your shoulders after will now cause a pain writhing fracture. Even a cough or bending over becomes a dangerous ordeal! The osteoporosis related fractures mostly occur at the hip, wrist and the spine.

Why Does Osteoporosis Happen?

Remember that your bone is a living tissue and undergoes constant state of renewal, the same way you shed a thin layer of your skin every day. When you are young the rate at which new bone is made is faster than the rate at which old bones breaks down. This causes the bone mass to increase, and most people reach this maximum bone mass by the age of 30.

When you go beyond 30, the rate of creation reduces. The peak bone mass you can achieve is not same for all, and is affected by genetics and depends on ethnic groups. So the more amount of bone tissue you have at your peak, the more time it will take for it to dissociate, and the less likely you are to be affected by osteoporosis.

How To Prevent Osteoporosis?

No one is immune to it. It is merely the factor of time that decides “when” somebody gets affected by it. Those with stronger genetics that contribute to the denser bone mass are very little prone to it. Woman of Asian and Caucasian ethnicity and beyond menopause age are the most prone of all the categories.

The way to combat against this is regular exercise, a healthy well balanced diet, medication and weight-bearing exercises to allow your bones to strengthen and reduce the chances of it breaking. Make sure that your diet consists of enough Vitamin-D, Calcium and that your weight is well under check.

When To Visit A Doctor?

There are certain tell-tale signs that indicate the onset of osteoporosis. These include:

  • Back pain
  • Loss of height over the years
  • Your posture is stooped
  • You are having fractures all too often

What Is Osteomalacia?

This is the “softening” of the bones which happens when there is a deficiency of vitamin D. This softened bone of children when they turn to adults can lead to bowing of the bones during growth. This is common especially in weight bearing bones of the legs. Osteomalacia in older adults will cause fractures

Why does Osteomalacia happen?

  • The softening if the bone due to Osteomalacia is because of the calcium and especially vitamin D deficiency. The best method of treatment for it is to ensure that enough vitamin D and calcium is ingested to ensure the hardening and the strengthening of the bones.
  • Your stomach breaks down the food you pass onto it, releasing the calcium and minerals that are required for bone growth. When certain surgeries are conducted such as that involving the bypassing of the small intestine or removal of a small part of the stomach, this process of vitamin D absorption is interrupted.
  • Even certain drugs used to control seizures can cause Vitamin D deficiency and osteomalacia.

How To Prevent Osteomalacia?

Those who are in tundra like region, that don’t get enough sun, are at highest risk. This includes people who are hospitalised and are housebound.

The best mode of prevention is taking in sufficient vitamin D rich foods like salmon, sardines, egg yolks. If not these, then take supplements that will help you bridge the gap.

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