Osteoporosis is causing a bone fracture every 3 seconds in the world

With the aim to raise global awareness of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease, the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) observes October 20 as World Osteoporosis Day. The year-long campaign focuses on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the bone disease.

The word ‘osteoporosis’ literally means ‘porous bones’. ‘Osteo’ is for bones and ‘porosis’ means porous, thus it describes this condition as a result of reduced bone density and increased fragility of the bones. The bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or in serious cases, even from simple actions like sneezing or bumping into furniture.

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According to the IOF, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually worldwide, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. In fact, by 2050, the worldwide incidences of hip fractures in men are projected to rise by 310% and 240% in women, compared to rates in 1990. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis

Dr Pradeep Bhosale, director, arthritis and total joint replacement surgery, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, said, “Everyone should maintain some activity in their daily routine. Every one hour, one should move and stretch their body as this will help in strengthening the bones and muscles. Lack of physical activity remains the most common cause of osteoporosis. Lesser the physical activities, more is the risk of contracting osteoporosis.”

He added that exposure to sunlight is a critical component to gain vitamin D. Key factors responsible for the early onset of osteoporosis is lack of vitamins and calcium.

“The unhealthy trend of gorging on junk food, depriving the body of essential nutrients in the process preventing a lot of people from access to a nutritive diet is also responsible for the increasing spread of the disease,” he said.

Dr Dilip Nadkarni, orthopedic at Lilavati Hospital, said an individual should indulge in exercise which includes weight bearing exercises in gym, push-ups, squats, leg press.

“Osteoporosis needs to be cured with diet, exercise, supplements and weight lifting. Protein is most important to build bone matrix and calcium in bone,” Dr Nadkarni said.

He said one basic exercise one can do is walking in sunshine from which the body will get vitamin D and enough nutrition will be provided to the bone and body.

Symptoms of osteoporosis

Typically, there are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. People with osteoporosis may begin to lose height, or they can develop a hunched or stooped posture as the spine begins to weaken. Broken bones are a major concern for people with osteoporosis. Once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have the following signs and symptoms

  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
  • Loss of height over time
  • A stooped posture
  • A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected
  • Backache
  • Fractures of the spine, wrist, or hip

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis

A family history of the condition also enhances risk, as does having a low body weight or having a small or thin build. Lifestyle factors can play a role in osteoporosis, as well. Numerous factors are associated with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. These factors include:

  • Having a family history of fractures
  • Being a woman, particularly in post menopause
  • Being age 50 or older
  • Having small or thin bones

Other risk factors include

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Dietary deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D
  • Lack of exercise

Prevention of osteoporosis

  • Quit smoking and drinking alcohol in excess
  • Exercise, such as by walking, climbing stairs, lifting weights, or playing a sport
  • Follow a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as by eating dairy foods and those with added calcium, or by taking vitamin D pills
  • Keeping your home well-lit and free of clutter
  • Installing carpets, handrails, and other devices to reduce the risk of slipping