Oct 19, 2016

How Osteoporosis Affects the Body

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that unfortunately affects over 54 million Americans. If not treated properly, it can have a drastic effect on your everyday life. This bone disease occurs when one’s body loses too much bone, does not make enough bone, or mixes the two. In return, the body suffers the consequences.

Educating yourself about how osteoporosis affects your body can empower you to take the necessary steps in battling against aches and pains.

No bones about it.

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that affects your bones’ density and quality. As the disease progresses, there is an increased risk of fracturing a bone. While the first symptoms can occur anywhere, the most common breaks happen in the hips, spine, and wrists, leading to curved or sloping shoulders, extreme back pain, poor posture, etc.

Our vertebrae significantly impact our day-to-day activities, such as the simple act of bending over to pick something up off the ground or lifting groceries in and out of the trunk. Everyday tasks can seem daunting when your bones are in constant pain.

Here are a few important facts from the Osteoporosis Foundation:

  • In women over 45 years of age, fractures due to osteoporosis result in more days spent in hospital than many other diseases, including diabetes, heart attack, and breast cancer.
  • Up to 20-24% of patients die in the first year after a hip fracture.
  • Hip fracture survivors experience loss of independence, with 40% unable to walk independently and 60% requiring assistance a year later, 80% are restricted in other activities, such as driving and grocery shopping.
  • 33% of hip fracture patients are totally dependent or in a nursing home in the year after a hip fracture
  • A fracture affects people not only physically but also emotionally. It reduces the overall quality of life, often causing depression and isolation as people reduce social interaction or are no longer able to do the activities they used to do.
  • The long-term loss of independence and mobility can put a physical, emotional, and financial strain on patients themselves, as well as relatives and friends.

Fractures can occur.

Due to the higher sensitivity of bones, someone who suffers from osteoporosis has an increased chance of breaking bones. In fact, more than 8.9 million fractures occur annually due to osteoporosis. Without proper treatment, fractures can occur after a simple fall, turning around abruptly, or even something as harmless as sneezing.

Common fractures that can occur are broken wrists, broken hips, and spinal fractures. One might also experience compression fractures, which happens when the vertebrae in the spine cave in on one another. Compression fractures often go unnoticed at first, but over time the symptoms and pain will worsen, eventually leading to severe back pain. Usually, this category of fractures is only discovered once x-rayed, which is why it is so important to schedule regular checkups.

[Need to know more about the difference between Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis? Click here!]

Loss of height. 

Because osteoporosis can cause the spine to bend forward through the effects of compression fractures, physical deformity can take place. This is seen through arched postures, weight loss, and often the loss of height. A healthy spine acts to keep your posture tall and straight. However, once the spine is attacked, you tend to hunch over. Also, the wear and tear of bones rubbing against one another can cause height loss.

Physical therapy and repetitive exercises can help your bones fight against crippling disease and improve your overall posture.

How Carolina Arthritis can help. 

Our physicians here at Carolina Arthritis are always staying up to date on the latest and greatest osteoporosis treatment opportunities. We introduced Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) bone density testing to Wilmington in the early 1990s, which is a non-invasive technology that allows our facility to evaluate the patient’s bones thoroughly.

Carolina Arthritis Associates also provide care through long-term treatments and interactive therapy. Contact our physicians today to fight the effects of osteoporosis and receive the best care in Wilmington.