Osteoporosis in women is a disease of the bones which can lead to a fracture. The bone mineral density gets reduced and the proteins in the bone are altered leading to decrease in strength of the bones. The bones become fragile and abnormally porous which results in fractures or breaks in bones. Usually the bones get their strength from the proteins, calcium and collagen and do not break or fracture with minor injuries. But in osteoporosis, bones can fracture with minor injuries by cracking or collapsing. The common areas of bone fractures are spine, ribs, hips and wrists.
This condition of osteoporosis in women can be present for a long time without showing any signs or symptoms till they suffer a fracture. The symptom associated with this condition is pain at the location of fracture. Spinal fractures can cause severe pain that can radiate to the sides of the body and repeated fractures can cause chronic lower back pain. This results in curving of the spine due to the collapse of the vertebrae causing a hunched back in women.
Other kind of fracture is a stress fracture which occurs due to minimal stress or trauma. Falls result in hip fractures which may take time to heal after surgery due to poor healing of the bones. Since osteoporosis causes the bones to become weak and brittle, mild stress like coughing and bending can also cause a fracture. Severe back pain, loss of height with time, stooped posture and fracture of wrist, vertebra and hip are the signs of osteoporosis in women.
The exact cause of this condition is not known, the remodeling of normal bone is disrupted which leads to this. The body breaks down the old bone to make a new bone and this happens faster when one is young. The remodeling continues but one loses more as you age. One is likely to develop osteoporosis if you lose the bone mass rapidly as you age. Bone density also depends on the calcium, phosphorous and other minerals and if these are present in lower than normal levels, they become weaker. Estrogen hormone levels also affect the bone density in women.
During menopause, the levels drop causing an increase in bone loss. Women are more likely to have osteoporosis if their calcium intake is less, presence of eating disorders, sedentary lifestyle, intake of certain medications and excessive alcohol consumption. Aging, family history, small body frame, excess thyroid and some medical conditions also make you more prone to getting osteoporosis in women. Also, this condition is more common in women than in men.
Treatment for osteoporosis in women is available in the form of medications and therapies. Some of the treatment options are as follows:
Medications: Many medications are available that inhibits bone loss and preserves bone mass. Raloxifene drug has the effects of estrogen without the side effects associated with estrogen. This is effective in post menopausal women without the risk of cancer. Teriparatide drug also treats osteoporosis in post menopausal women by stimulating bone growth.
Hormone Therapy: Estrogen therapy after menopause helps in maintaining bone density. But this has side effects which can increase the risk of getting cancer.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy aids in building the bone strength and improves the posture.
Apart from these, it is important to maintain a good posture and prevent falls along with the treatment of this condition.
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