While it’s common to think of bones as the solid structure that supports your body, a cross-section shows that the composition of bone tissue resembles sponge toffee, full of tiny bubbles, a weight-saving natural design. When you have osteoporosis, you lose bone mass as these bubbles increase in size. If the disease progresses far enough, bone strength is compromised.
There are few indications that osteoporosis has started during the early stages of the condition. Diet, exercise, and medications can slow the progress of the disease, so early recognition is important. Schedule a visit to Millennium Park Medical Associates in Greenwood Village, Colorado, if you suspect you may have osteoporosis, or if you have factors that put you at higher risk.
How osteoporosis starts
Your bones constantly form new tissue while removing old bone. A young child makes new bone tissue faster than old bone breaks down, so they gain bone mass, a process that continues until the late 20s. Without intervention, bone mass starts to decline after this point.
Your likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends in part on your peak bone mass achieved in youth. The less porous your bone is at this point means that loss in later years may not affect you to the point of compromising bone strength. However, natural loss of bone mass isn’t a consistent or predictable process.
Osteoporosis risk factors
There are two types of risk factors that influence your chances for developing osteoporosis, those that are out of your control and others that you may be able to take action against.
Unchangeable risks include your gender. Women develop osteoporosis more often than men. Causcasian and Asian women have the highest incidence of the condition, so race is a factor. Parents or siblings with osteoporosis increase your risk of the disease, and those with small bodies may have less bone mass to lose before problems begin.
Hormones play a role in both women and men where osteoporosis is concerned. It’s more dramatic in women since the falloff of estrogen production at menopause is more sudden than the gradual decline of testosterone in men. Low levels of each of these hormones is associated with osteoporosis.
Diet can accelerate the progress of osteoporosis, particularly in people who have had gastrointestinal surgery or eating disorders that interrupt the absorption of key nutrients. People with diets low in calcium experience increased risk too.
Other risk factors include some medical conditions, side effects of medications, and lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol abuse, or lack of physical activity.
Early signs of osteoporosis
Often, the first indication of osteoporosis is a broken or collapsed bone. Reliable early warning signs are few. However, there are some symptoms that may suggest a medical assessment is a good idea. These include:
- Grip strength: Weakened grip in postmenopausal women correlates with low bone density
- Receding gums: Losing bone tissue in your jaws can cause gums to recede
- Brittle fingernails: There’s a relationship between nail and bone strength, though it’s not a reliable indicator of osteoporosis
Later in the disease, you may experience loss of height or back pain due to the collapse of vertebrae, even without suffering an incident that causes a bone break.
Contact Millennium Park Medical Associates if you suspect osteoporosis or if you have one or more risk factors. Bone density is measurable, so your condition can be assessed, even if you’re not symptomatic. Call the office directly, or use the online booking tool to schedule your appointment today.