What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak or brittle bones. In people with osteoporosis, the bones are so fragile that a fall or a cough is fracture them. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Caucasian and Asian women, especially when post-menopausal, are most frequently affected by osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is an age-related condition that worsens as a person gets older.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
The bones in our bodies are undergoing constant remodeling: bone is being broken down and replaced with new bone. Osteoporosis results when the rate of breakdown exceeds the rate of new bone formation. Bone density is highest around the age of 20, and thereafter bone density declines with age. A person’s risk for osteoporosis partially depends on the peak bone density achieved in their youth. The more bone that was present in young adulthood, the longer the bone will last as one ages. A family history of osteoporosis is a risk factor for developing the disease. Men and women with smaller body frames are also more prone to develop osteoporosis since they have less bone that those with larger body frames.
The reduction in the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, which decline as we age, results in weakened bones. In fact, the reduction in estrogen at menopause is the strongest risk factor for development of osteoporosis. An overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) can cause bone loss. Overactivity of the parathyroid and the adrenal glands has also been associated with osteoporosis.
Nutrition also plays in an important role in maintaining healthy bones. A diet low or deficient in calcium is a strong risk factor for the development of osteoporosis. Anorexia limits the amount of calcium that can be taken in through the diet and can facilitate osteoporosis onset. Corticosteroid medications inhibit new bone formation, and long-term use can lead to osteoporosis. Other lifestyle choices including excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and a sedentary lifestyle can promote bone thinning.
What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Generally, the early stages of bone loss are asymptomatic. However, once osteoporosis becomes significant, symptoms may include back or hip pain, reduced height, stooped posture, and bones that easily fracture.
What is the Treatment for Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis and osteopenia can be caused by anything from genetics to the age-related decline of hormones to thyroid disorders. Nutrient deficiencies are also common underlying causes of osteoporosis. After a thorough physical examination and blood work that evaluates nutrients and hormones, we provide a comprehensive treatment plan that includes nutrition, supplementation with key nutrients, and, if appropriate, bioidentical hormone replacement to slow or reverse osteoporosis.