Osteoporosis is a common disease defined as a decrease in the bone density within the skeletal structure of the body. The decrease in density of bones immediately causes the decrease in the strength of those bones which gradually become more fragile and brittle.
The brittleness as well as fragility of the bones are the precursors of the gradual transformation towards compressible and porous bones. This condition further increases the risk of more frequent discomfort and skeletal related injuries.
Young and healthy bones contain protein, calcium and collagen which are the three most important factors towards maintaining and improving the strength of your bones. The absence of any of these nutrients can immediately lead to the occurrence of osteoporosis related signs and symptoms.
This is the reason why is it so important to learn as much as you can about osteoporosis and discover the treatment in order to make sure that you can get rid of the potentially severe effects that the later stage of this condition causes.
As we progress through different parts of life, our sensitivity and exposure to osteoporosis changes. Dr. Andrew Weil explains the two main types of bones accurately and what causes them to change:
There are actually two different types of bones – both of which lose bone mass later in life, but at different times.
- Trabecular bone refers to the inner portion that contains calcium in lattice crystal-like structures. The years that comprise childhood through young adulthood are critical for depositing calciumin trabecular bone, which then provides a reserve ofthis mineral in later life. Trabecular bone is sensitive to several hormones, including estrogen, which control the amount of calcium deposited and withdrawn. The calcium in trabecular structures is used bythe body when blood calcium levels are low. After age 30, a gradual loss in trabecular begins to occur.
- Cortical bone is the dense layer that forms the outer shell. While both types are crucial to the structural strength and both contain calcium, cortical bone does not give up its reserves as readily as trabecular bone, and does not begins to decline in mass until after about age40.
Two essential types of body cells are involved in daily regeneration of our skeletal tissues – osteoblast cells and osteoclast cells. During the interplay of these two kinds of cells, the over-activity of osteoclast cells causes the condition in the body that leads to osteoporosis.
As part of the main definition, there are two main types of osteoporosis: Primary Osteoporosis and Secondary Osteoporosis. Primary osteoporosis causes can be further divided into Type 1 and Type 2 osteoporosis.
How do doctors diagnose osteoporosis?
The first step in finding the proper treatment is to diagnose the state of your skeletal structure. the In today's medical science reports, the most trusted testing method to accurately identify the percentage of density and ultimately diagnose the causes for osteoporosis, happens to be the DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry).
This test, primarily uses a technology based on computer imaging and creates a sophisticated scan of a patient's hip and spine. Some of the less accurate screening and testing methods are now available in your local pharmacies, but do not show results that are as conclusive as DEXA.
Other methods to diagnose the causes of osteoporosis and the correct treatment could be ultrasound or X-Ray based (quantitative computed tomography). The method that was extensively used in the past is using X-rays, but this type of the test is not as sensitive as the others. In order for the X-ray based test to diagnose a patient with osteoporosis, at least 25% of loss would have to be already present.
What are the Causes of Osteoporosis?
If left untreated, osteoporosis can substantially affect your quality of life and that's why you need to learn about the causes of this illness, know what typical symptoms are and then identify the proper treatment. Here are some of the general causes of osteoporosis:
- Certain types of genetic signs or pre-conditions or a specific gender or race.
- Predisposition to osteoporosis being passed from one generation to another.
- Having relatively small and thin framed skeletal system.
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and smoking.
- Osteoporosis may also be caused by nutrient lacking diets like eating predominantly junk food and empty calories. Diets with high sodium intake, coffee, large quantities of animal proteinhave also been flagged as potential causes of osteoporosis.
- Overall poor nutrition and diet habits, inactivity and lack of regular exercise.
- Diet with insufficient intake of some important vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D.
- Signs of menopause and generally low levels of estrogen and testosterone for both men and women .
- Prescription medications – some specific medications, like anti-convulsants and steroid related medications, are known to be the causes for accelerated de-mineralization in bones, which isthen manifested as typical signs of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can be present in your body for a long time and quite a few of these signs or symptoms may not be noticed for years. In cases like these, it is almost always harder to administer the correct treatment and sometimes medications, as opposed to identifying the symptoms earlier.
Osteoporosis Signs and Symptoms
There are no typical signs and symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis. But, once your skeletal structure gets weakened by this condition, you immediately start to experience the subtle signs and symptoms it introduces. At that stage it is crucial to identify and apply the treatment best suited for your particular scenario.
The symptoms of osteoporosis for both men and women are the same and these are usually:
- Back pain which is primarily caused by collapsed or even fractured vertebra.
- Loss of normal height.
- Stooped posture
- Skeletal fractures that primarily occur easier than expected.
- Noticeable bone loss.
- Onset of extreme pain.
These are just some of the common signs of osteoporosis that you need to be aware of. All of these can be experienced during the early stages of the illness so you need to learn to recognize them and then do the research to find the most effective and safest treatments to protect your body from further damage.
Natural and Alternative Treatment of Osteoporosis
Any basic treatment of osteoporosis encourages patients to consume correct quantities of vitamin D and calcium in addition to different types of osteoporosis medications your medical professional recommended. These vitamins and minerals should be introduced in your diet gradually either as diet supplements or by changing your diet plan.
Because of the fact that osteoporosis is extremely difficult to reverse once it takes its course, you need to make use of the most convenient and effective osteoporosis medications that are available as treatment right away. One of the best and the most effective means to start any treatment is to immediately think about changing your lifestyle in a healthy way.
Regularly performing recommended exercises can greatly improve and maintain the strength of your bones and to keep you healthy and in shape all the time. As an added bonus, osteoporosis exercises will also prevent other types of diseases and illnesses completely unrelated to osteoporosis. There are two main streams of treatment of osteoporosis that you can consider initially, before going towards the route of prescription medications:
Natural Treatment for Osteoporosis
One of the most effective types of treatment for osteoporosis is to go towards the route of proper diet, exercise, natural solutions and finally medications. Natural types of treatment are usually recommended to those people who don’t want to experience harsh side effects created by regular prescription osteoporosis medications.
The common natural osteoporosis medications and treatment in general includes taking different types of healthy and nutritious foods and supplements instead of using some chemically produced medications. Medical studies show the positive correlation between the levels of bone density and the quality of foods, vegetables and recommended supplements we take.
As mentioned before, another effective way to deal with your osteoporosis is to introduce sets of proper exercises into your daily regimen and reduce caffeine and alcohol intake. You also need to reduce exposure to fast food diet binges and carbonated drinks loaded with sugar and other chemicals. Also, any foods with high content of phosphorous are not recommended because they can negatively affect the mineral density of your bones.
So, first and foremost, consider making some important life-style and diet changes that will include simple things like increasing the intake of calcium, eating lots of fruit and vegetables, making sure you get recommended quantities of vitamin D, not eating as much salt as before and trying to incorporate more weight-bearing osteoporosis exercises in your daily activities.
Supplements and Nutrition as main Treatment for Osteoporosis
In addition to suggestions mentioned above, consider adding more of the important and recommended supplements for osteoporosis to your diet. Some of those might include consuming foods particularly rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and vitamin K.
Consult with your medical or herbal professional, but a lot of people with osteoporosis, end up creating a meal plan that includes regular taking over-the-counter supplements for these key vitamins and minerals:
- Magnesium and Calcium supplements – recommended to take both together in your diet to avoid any potential problems with constipation (mostly for more senior patients)
- Vitamin K – activates specific proteins that are directly responsible for bone mass structure changes.
- Vitamin D – aids in absorption process of calcium and therefore very important.
Healthy Osteoporosis Diet
Of course, these supplements are only in addition to the already established osteoporosis diet plan that will be one of the crucial things in your treatment. You already know how important calcium and magnesium are, so your diet should include a lot of foods that contain these two chemical compounds. If you are used to a diet rich in animal proteins – you will need to make a few adjustments, because a diet containing a lot of animal products and by-products tends to leach calcium out of the bones and flush it out of the body.
So instead of drinking milk (that has calcium absorption rate of 32%) we recommend that you stick to the diet loaded with greens that have absorption rate of over 50% like bok choy, collard greens, kale, turnip greens and spinach. This is the diet that will ensure your bones get and keep enough nutrients you need daily.
Incorporating Osteoporosis Exercises In Your Life
In addition to all other life-style changes, introducing more weight bearing exercises such jogging or walking are always good because, while doing them, you need to support your own weight and your bones must respond to these demands by building themselves up and becoming stronger. Try to stay away from exercises that are non-weight bearing like swimming or cycling because they will do just the opposite.
Other types of exercises that you should consider as part of the overall fitness strategy would be cardiovascular exercises and resistance training exercises. However, depending on your age, ability and overall fitness levels it is advisable to check with your medical team and create a plan of exercises that are safe for you to do and that you like. Only then will these osteoporosis exercises have an effect because you will end up doing them regularly.
If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, in that case we recommend that you stay away from exercises that are high impact style (e.g. jogging or running). Exercises that require quick movements, or if there is a risk that you can fall while doing them, should also be avoided. Also exercises that involve twisting and bending movements could also be a source of injury. Same goes for abdominal crunches and other ab exercises because, if not done properly, they can cause compression and structural fractures of the spine.
Hormone replacement therapy
Apart from each natural treatment for osteoporosis, we can also look at the types of alternative treatment medications that you may consider in order to properly manage the illness. Some of those could include the conventional hormone replacement therapy and related medications.
As explained in this article on Osteoporosis Canada, the introduction of hormone therapy medications as the treatment is sometimes crucial:
Hormone Therapy (HT) or estrogen/progesterone, is commonly used to relieve the symptoms of menopause. However, because estrogen plays such an important role in maintaining your bones, HT is another option to consider to treat causes of osteoporosis if you are also seeking relief from symptoms of menopause.
Following menopause, the body produces much less of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, which causes a loss of bone density. Estrogen/progesterone treatment is not intended to “replace” the loss of these hormones, but to supplement these hormones to the lowest level required to prevent bone loss. Treatment can consist of estrogen alone or estrogen and progesterone medications in combination.
A dose of 0.625 mg of oral conjugated equine estrogen (or its equivalent) is taken each day. Unless you have had a hysterectomy, progesterone is also taken to reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer. Medications containing estrogen/progesterone are available in both pill and patch form and in a variety of regimens.
The results of these types of estrogen replacement therapy are generally positive and usually involve using prescription medications like bisphosponates (alendronate and risendronate), synthetic calcitonin or parathyroid hormone supplement medications.
As you can see there is a lot of research you need to do yourself if you are diagnosed with osteoporosis already, or if you noticing some warning signs of osteoporosis. In either case, the help is available and you just have to find the treatment for osteoporosis that works best in your particular case!