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Osteoporosis, when the bones start to fail

The experts of the Blog “Health and prevention” analyze in a new post osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass of the bones that can cause fractures.

Osteoporosis, when the bones start to fail

Age is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Photo provided by Quironsalud.

Bones provide the body with a firm structure and protect the most delicate internal organs. They are a strong tissue that undergoes a continuous process of “remodeling” in which old bone tissue is gradually replaced by new bone tissue. Every bone in the body is completely renewed every 10 years.

The external hard part of the bone (cortical bone) is composed of proteins such as collagen and a substance called hydroxyapatite, made up of calcium and other minerals and responsible for the strength and density of the bone.

The internal part (trabecular bone) is less dense than the outer part, but it contributes significantly to bone strength, since if the quantity or quality of this part of the bone decreases, the risk of fractures increases. Likewise, inside the bone is the bone marrow, which contains specialized cells that produce blood cells.

When bone mass density decreases, bones become more porous and therefore more fragile. They resist blows worse and break more easily. This is the osteoporosisa disease of the skeleton that does not manifest itself until the loss of the bone is so great that it breaks.

the most common fractures they are the vertebral, the wrist and the hipthe latter being the one that can be considered more serious because it requires surgical intervention and hospital admission, which causes the patient to lose quality of life.

As a result of the fractures, there are a series of complications that can have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life, derived from the pain and disability it produces, as well as the worsening of other diseases that they may have. That’s why it’s important to detect which patients have osteoporosis by doing a densitometry and to institute a treatment that increases bone mineral density in order to reduce the risk of fracture”, he explainsDoctor Javier García Miguel, head of the Rheumatology Service at the Sagrad Cor University Hospital from Barcelona.

Osteoporosis mainly affects the bones of women, especially after menopause, although it can also affect men, teenagers and even children.

Approximately one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture as a result of osteoporosis in their lifetime. It is estimated that this disease causes about 25,000 fractures a year.

EFE/DPA/EP/Bernd Thissen

How can osteoporosis of the bones be prevented?

Between the ages of 30 and 35, a person reaches, under normal conditions, the maximum amount of bone mass. From this age, it is lost naturally little by little.

To help improve bone quality, a number of healthy lifestyle habits can be followed, such as exercising daily, eating foods rich in calcium, especially milk and derivatives, quitting smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and don’t forget vitamin D, a fundamental substance for bones, which you get mainly through the sun’s rays.

Also, the likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends largely on how much bone mass you had in your youth. The greater this bone mass, the more bone tissue will be in reserve and the lower the chance of having osteoporosis in the bones.

However, some factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Among the most relevant are a family history of hip fracture, extreme thinness, prolonged treatment with cortisone, early menopause, frequent falls or malnutrition and eating disorders.

And, of course, age, as bone mass is lost as you age, as well as gender, as women are more likely than men to suffer from osteoporosis.

Bone loss usually has no symptoms, but it is important to see a specialist when you experience back pain, loss of height, a hunched posture, or a bone that breaks more easily than expected.

For a proper diagnosis, the test that is done is a bone densitometry, an easy, fast, cheap and innocuous technique that measures the mineral density of the bone and makes it possible to estimate the degree of loss of bone mass.

“It is the main diagnostic tool that allows determining the risk of suffering a fracture. Densitometry makes it possible to detect osteoporosis at its earliest stage and thus be able to institute preventive treatment. It’s a simple and painless test that doesn’t require any special preparation and lasts about 10-15 minutes”, points out Dr. García.

It is important to insist on measures that must be carried out to avoid, as far as possible, the development of the disease:

  • Avoid sedentary lifestyle.
  • Do an appropriate physical activity according to the age and physical shape of each one.
  • In older people, exercising regularly and adapted to their age, which even if it does not benefit bone mass, can help reduce falls.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and protein foods and avoid excess salt.
  • Moderate sun exposure.
  • It is necessary for the elderly to take extreme measures to reduce the possibility of falls, with the use of canes or walkers to walk if necessary, and to adapt the house to avoid these dreaded falls at certain ages.
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