Osteoporosis – are drugs the only answer?
When is a broken bone not a broken bone?
Bones are alive and continually changing – worn out bone being replaced by new. In fact you get a completely new skeleton every 10 years!
Bones have a thick outer shell and a honeycomb mesh inside – when the gaps in this internal mesh become bigger, making the bone fragile and brittle, this is osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease as there are few obvious symptoms. Many people only realise they have it when they break a bone and an X-ray reveals loss of bone density.
While it is true that we lose bone density as we age there are some conditions, operations and medicines that can speed up loss of bone density and therefore trigger osteoporosis: (for a more complete list please check out the National Osteoporosis Foundation)
- Auto Immune Disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Digestive disorders (inc some bowel surgeries)
- Blood Disorders like leukaemia
- Neurological Disorders like Parkinson’s and spinal cord injuries
- Hormone disorders such as thyroid issues
- Medications like Steroids, Lithium, SSRIs, Tamoxifen and the contraceptive injection.
The easiest and quickest way to diagnose osteoporosis is a bone density scan.
This is a simple procedure, you don’t even need to remove your clothes, and will give you a bone density score which can be used to monitor your progress and reaction to treatment.
Medication – there is a huge range of medication available so it is important that you work with your physician to choose the right one for you. Some have side effects so make sure to ask all the questions before starting treatment.
Nutrition and Exercise – a diet rich in Vitamin D and Calcium is important in supporting bone health. And weight bearing exercise is also key. But balance is important – too much exercise on a too low calorie diet can be as damaging as too little exercise on a too high calorie diet.
Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRT) – a treatment based on the MRI scanner, it stimulates bone regrowth and regeneration and can be used in conjunction with medication and other treatments. It can dramatically slow bone loss and, in early interventions, even reverse it completely.