What is osteoporosis and what does it cause to those who suffer from it?

Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease that produces a loss of bone mass, increasing fragility and favoring fractures. It is a silent pathology, it does not cause symptoms, nor does it produce pain to the patient. In many cases the first symptom is the appearance of a fracture after a minor trauma. The most frequent are vertebral, wrist and hip fractures.

At what age can osteoporosis begin to appear?

Osteoporosis affects especially women and increases to a great extent after menopause, a period in which a greater bone mass is lost due to the hormonal changes typical of this period of life. As part of aging, it is normal for bone mass to decrease with age and, therefore, osteoporosis is more frequent the older the patient is.

However, there are cases of osteoporosis at younger ages, even in infancy, that require expert evaluation to determine the cause of osteoporosis.

Which people are more prone to osteoporosis?

The people most at risk for osteoporosis, although not exclusively, are:

  • Post-menopausal women with a close family history (mother or sisters) of osteoporosis and/or bone fragility fractures.
  • People with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease or systemic autoimmune diseases.
  • People who require preventive treatment for seizures or who use corticosteroids also have an increased risk of osteoporosis.

How is this pathology diagnosed?

The diagnosis of this disease is made by means of a radiological study called bone densitometry. However, densitometry values help in the diagnosis, but are not decisive in deciding the appropriate treatment in each case.

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What treatments are available?

Broadly speaking, there are two types of pharmacological treatments for osteoporosis, in addition to calcium and vitamin D supplementation:

  • Bone-forming treatments, teriparatide. Its effect is produced by stimulating the bone to form more bone (activates osteoblasts), but its use has a maximum treatment time of 2 years.
  • Anti-resorptive treatments, bisphosphonates or denosumab. Their effect is produced by preventing bone destruction (inhibits osteoclasts) and their use can be more prolonged, but it is recommended that they be carefully evaluated after 10 years of treatment.