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Aug 25, 2011

Healthy Living goes bone deep with Osteoporosis

There are many myths about the medical condition, osteoporosis, including that it only affects elderly women and it is only caused by a lack of calcium. But in this week’s Healthy Living, Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Andre Sosa, has the facts on the different types and causes of this bone disease.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects our bones. It leaves them porous, brittle, thin and as a result prone to breaking. The misconceptions of who develops osteoporosis leads to lade diagnosis for many. Orthopedic surgeon, Dr Andre Sosa, explains the different forms of osteoporosis and how it develops.

Dr. Andre Sosa, Orthopedic Surgeon

Andre Sosa

“There is the Type 1 which is also known as post menopausal osteoporosis. There is type 2 which is the senile osteoporosis and they are situations where secondary osteoporosis can occur. Type 2 is part of a more natural progression osteoporosis. (Part of aging) part of the process of ageing and of course Type 1  which is post menopausal osteoporosis for most women will occur after they’ve stop menstruating; so aging is a factor there.  The secondary osteoporosis refers to those conditions where for example lifestyle may contribute to bone weakening that would include fro example like consumption of too much alcohol, too much soft drinks, use of certain medications such as glutecoricoids which are basically steroids and also medications for the epileptic conditions which may almost cause that.”

There are no symptoms in the early in the course of the disease. Later, it may cause dull pain in the bones or muscles, particularly low back pain or neck pain. Over a longer period with the weakening of the bones, persons with osteoporosis are more at risk for broken bones.

Dr. Andre Sosa

“Osteoperosis can lead to fragility fractures. And by fragility fractures we mean fractures that are caused in situation where the normal person wouldn’t suffer a breakage of the bone. Many times you would have noticed that older persons who use to be tall and have an upright posture are bent over as they age those particularly over the age of seventy-five and what has happened there is that the bone density has decreased to such a point where the own body weight start to crush those bones and you can lose up to eight inches in height just from that.”

Other common fractures include the hip bones, very common with elderly persons.

Osteoporosis is more common in women especially those who have been through the menopause due to lack of estrogen. Similarly reduction of testosterone in men as they age is also a contributory factor to the disease.

Dr. Andre Sosa

“It tends to be a silent condition and the diagnosis. First requires you to have some suspicion that the bones are weakened and that suspicion normally comes about when the person breaks a bone or starts to bend over and stoop or even has back pains.”

But although silent, it can be diagnosed early.  A bone density scan can expose osteoporosis long before our bones become dangerously fragile and treatment is available.

Dr. Andre Sosa

“What these medications do is that they slow down the rate at which the body pulls out the mineral substance out of the bones in that way it tend to keep the bones stronger for longer. Typical treatments will be for two years other newer medications that are coming online but apart from the medication, exercise is promoted a something that can help to actually harden your bones.  We have to be careful about how we go ahead and take supplements even if you as an older person take calcium everyday or take high doses of calcium everyday that by itself will not make for stronger bones. We have to remember that what is happening in the older individuals is that the substances that encourage the body to absorb the calcium and make use of it decrease their concentration. Specifically we’re talking about estrogen in women and testosterone in men.”

As for prevention, a look at your lifestyle and dietary habits is the best start.

Dr. Andre Sosa

“I remember one of my professors telling us in class one day. If you have a daughter make sure she gets milk from the day she’s born and throughout the rest of her life. The calcium that is being ingested is similar to putting money in the bank.  It is equally important to be very wary of soft drinks because soft drinks seem to compete with calcium for a position in the bones so drinking a lot of soft drinks actually makes for weaker bones.”

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