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Causes and Consequences of Osteoporosis

Introduction

Osteoporosis is a condition in which an individual is often susceptible to bone fractures. It is a condition of decreased bone density leading to bone weaknesses. The condition leads to the abnormally porous bone that can be compressible as with the case of a sponge. This condition predisposes individuals to bone fractures. Normal bone is made up of fibrous materials such as collagen, minerals (calcium), and proteins. These components of the bone contribute to its strength. Osteoporosis makes bones weaken. Osteoporosis causes bones to fracture upon minor injuries as opposed to normal cases in the absence of the condition. Bone fractures during Osteoporosis can be in form of cracking or collapsing. Although bone fractures resulting from Osteoporosis can occur in any skeletal bone, they are frequently observed on hips, spine, wrists, and ribs (Shier, Butler & Lewis, 2009).

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Causes of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition of weakening of bones. The condition occurs when the body is not able to form new bone tissues and when the body without replacement reabsorbs old bone. It can also result from a combination of the two conditions. Bones are mainly composed of calcium and phosphorous. These minerals are responsible for the strength of the bone. The body absorbs the minerals from food to make the bone (Cembrowicz & Allain, 2007). A situation, where absorption of the minerals is hampered, would thus have a direct effect on strength of the bone. The body uses calcium and phosphorous to make bones strong especially during teenage age. In case the body is not able to absorb enough of these minerals, then bone tissues are affected. The deficiency of the two minerals can lead to the development of osteoporosis. Low levels of these important minerals may cause the body to reabsorb calcium from the bones thereby weakening the bones. This usually takes place when the low level of calcium in the bloodstream is not replenished through the diet.

As people age, absorption of Calcium and phosphorous from food reduces. With this reduction, the minerals required to make new bone is reabsorbed from the old bone. Consequently, this makes the bones weaken. Reduced absorption of Calcium and phosphorous from the diet and reabsorbing of the minerals from existing bones leads to brittle and fragile bones that are prone to fractures in the absence of substantial trauma. Loss of bone density usually takes place gradually over the years thereby making the symptoms of osteoporosis occur later in life (Shier, Butler & Lewis, 2009). In most cases, individuals realize that they have osteoporosis only after they experience bone fractures. The disease is usually at an advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed.

Osteoporosis is regarded as a natural aging process, however; it is related to some conditions. Osteoporosis is more prevalent in postmenopausal women. These women have a higher prevalence of osteoclast activity relative to pre-menopausal women. Osteoclasts are cells responsible for bone destruction. During menopause, there is reduced secretion of estrogen. This hormone is important during bone remodeling. The absence of this hormone consequently leads to bone loss that can translate to osteoporosis. Thus, post-menopause women may experience sudden bone loss leading to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can also be secondary to other health issues. Conditions associated with osteoporosis include hyperthyroidism, alcoholism, kidney or chronic liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scurvy, vitamin D deficiency, cirrhosis, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, and lymphoma. Other agents responsible for bone loss include progestin without estrogen and heparin. Other secondary causes include seizure medications and bone cancer (Cembrowicz & Allain, 2007).

Symptoms and Consequence of Osteoporosis

Symptoms related to cases of osteoporosis are not usually equivocal. The condition can be present for a long duration of time without being noticed until when bone fractures occur. Some fractures resulting from osteoporosis may not lead to any observable symptoms. This implies that the condition can be present for a long without being noticed (Kanis, Melton, Christiansen, Johnson, & Khaltaev, 2009). Patients with osteoporosis become aware of the condition upon experiencing a painful fracture. The main symptom of osteoporosis is pain. The location of the pain is dependent on the position of the bone fracture. Fractures occurring at the spine lead to pain that spreads from the back to the sides of the body. Multiple bone fractures on the spinal code lead to chronic pain on the lower backside, collapsing of the spinal vertebrae which lead to a curved shape of the spine, and loss of height. The collapsing spine gives the back a hunched shape/Dowager hump. This condition is more frequent in elderly women. Osteoporosis patients experience frequent stress fractures. The fracture may take place during normal activities such as walking. Hip fractures are common during osteoporosis resulting from falling and other minor accidents. In such cases, individuals with osteoporosis experience a slow recovery rate due to poor healing of the bone (Cembrowicz & Allain, 2007). Osteoporosis has several effects. It affects the quality of life, leads to loss of workdays, disability, and sometimes death.

Conclusion

Osteoporosis is a major health issue, especially among elderly people. The condition results from reduced absorption of Calcium and phosphorous from diet or reabsorbing of the bone-forming minerals from bones to the bloodstream. Absorption of calcium and phosphorous mainly occurs during the teenage stage. Failure to gain appropriate bone density during this stage of development makes an individual more vulnerable to osteoporosis. To be safe, an individual needs to ensure that there is adequate dietary intake of Calcium. Exercise, especially at the teenage stage, is very important in reducing cases of osteoporosis.

Reference List

Cembrowicz, S., & Allain, T. (2007). Osteoporosis. New York: Class Publishing Ltd.

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Kanis, J., Melton, J., Christiansen, C., Johnson, C. & Khaltaev, N., (2009). The diagnosis of osteoporosis. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Shier, D., Butler, J., & Lewis, R. (2009). Hole’s Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology (10th ed). New York: McGraw Hill.

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