Osteoporosis: the metabolic bone disease

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease, which consists in the loss of bone tissue per unit of bone volume. When suffering from this disease, the bone loses mineral and protein content, so it becomes more porous and ends up containing more air. All this causes a decrease in bone mass and an alteration of the bone micro-architecture; the consequence of all this is greater fragility of the skeleton and a higher frequency of bone fractures. Dr. Jesús Tornero Molina, Rheumatologist and Expert in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis, as well as in Hand Arthrosis and Osteoporosis, explains the main symptoms of this disease, as well as the treatments that can be applied.

Main symptoms of people suffering from osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a common disease, especially in women after menopause and in the elderly. It can also appear secondary to other bone disorders, such as chronic inflammatory diseases, in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis; in relation to some hematological cancers such as myeloma, leukemia, or lymphomas; together with diseases of the endocrine glands such as thyroid problems, or of the suprarenal gland; or by abuse of substances toxic to the bone, such as alcohol and tobacco, and/or by chronic intake of certain medications, especially cortisone and derivatives.

What are the main symptoms of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis as such does not cause pain, but what hurts are the consequences of osteoporosis, i.e. the bone fractures it causes. Fractures of long bones are usually located in the wrist, vertebrae, hip, shoulder or ribs. They occur as a result of minor blows or stress; for example, a coughing fit can trigger a vertebral fracture in these patients. When vertebral fractures are repeated over time, then it is because osteoporosis alters the normal conformation of the skeleton; the person loses height, comes to suffer an exaggerated curvature of the dorsal spine and a very characteristic hump appears. This alteration can cause chronic spinal pain.

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Types of patients predisposed to suffer from osteoporosis

Cases of osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women, especially if the menopause has been early -experienced before the age of 46- or after undergoing surgery to remove the ovaries and uterus; also in elderly people, especially if they are institutionalized and lead a sedentary life.

Family history plays a very important role. It is essential to try to avoid harmful habits and risky behaviors such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption when young. Any abuse at this age can be paid for in adulthood with osteoporosis disease, among others.

Innovations in types of osteoporosis treatment

Medications used during the treatment of osteoporosis aim to reduce the incidence of fractures, especially vertebral and hip fractures. In these types of cases, antiresorptive drugs such as bisphosphonates are mainly used.

Recently, Denosumab, an effective biological therapy, which contributes to the regulation of the function of osteoclasts, the cells that dissolve the bone and promote its fragility, has also begun to be used. Formation stimulators such as Teriparatide are also available. All types of treatment should be supported by adequate daily physical activity, accompanied by a diet rich in calcium, the abandonment of excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption, and the maintenance of adequate levels of vitamin D.