THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OSTEOPENIA AND OSTEOPOROSIS…

If, like me you had never heard of osteopenia then I will explain what this condition is. Web MD write that you should think of it as a midpoint between having healthy bones and having osteoporosis.

Osteopenia is when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily, which is the hallmark of osteoporosis. Your bones are usually at their densest when you’re about 30. Osteopenia, if it happens at all, usually occurs after age 50. The exact age depends how strong your bones are when you’re young. If they’re hardy, you may never get osteopenia. If your bones aren’t naturally dense, you may get it earlier.

Osteopenia — or seeing it turn into osteoporosis for that matter — is not inevitable. Dietexercise, and sometimes medication can help keep your bones dense and strong for decades.

Recently I was asked to go for a bone scan to look for osteoporosis due to ongoing pain in both my hips, or at least that was what I thought the scan was for. The results came back that I have osteopenia and I have now been put on some medication and they are arranging for me to see a Physiotherapist to start some core strength and weight bearing exercises to avoid it turning into osteoporosis.

When I asked the GP if this was causing my hip pain she said there is no pain associated with osteopenia unless you break a bone. My GP then started asking me a few questions about my hip pain and asked me to pop over and see her. She is now 99% sure that I am suffering from bursitis and is referring me to an Orthopedic Consultant. So, from the pain clinic sending me for a bone scan for hip pain which showed osteopenia I now also have another problem with bursitis which I will cover in another post.

Ortho Atlanta explains about osteopenia and osteoporosis that while these diseases do have some similarities, there are also distinct differences between them. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Osteoporosis means “porous bones.” Bones that are porous, or less dense, are more likely to break. A person with osteoporosis may also walk with a stooped back. Osteopenia is considered a midway point to osteoporosis; the bone density is lower than normal but not as severe and treating it may slow the progression bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. Bone mineral density (BMD) measures the level of calcium in the bones. The lower this level is, the more likely a person is to sustain bone fractures. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are both diseases in which the bone density is low. 

Serious injuries can occur as a result of osteoporosis. Because persons diagnosed with osteoporosis have lost a lot of bone mass, their bones, more porous, and brittle, can fracture from something as simple as a sneeze or a minor fall. Fractures caused by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine. Known as vertebral compression fractures, fractures in the spine are almost twice as common as other fractures typically linked to osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists. Osteopenia isn’t quite as serious as osteoporosis because the bones aren’t as porous and measures can be taken to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can’t be reversed; however, it can be managed using the same treatments recommended for osteopenia. In addition to diet and exercise, there are medications the doctor may recommend to help prevent further bone loss.

BACK PAIN AND OSTEOPOROSIS…

Osteoporosis is one of the natural signs of aging, and the International Osteoporosis foundation has stated that over 44 million men and women in the U.S suffer from it. This number is much larger if you look at it on a global scale.

So, what is osteoporosis?

In simple words, it’s a process where bones decalcify and start to crack. Because of the lack of calcium, the bones are now weaker. When the vertebra has cracks in them due to osteoporosis, a vertebral crush fracture can occur causing severe pain.

Women are more prone to this problem, and often experience hip fractures because of it. Since women have lower bone density than men, they lose more bone mass with age.

You’re at a higher risk of osteoporosis if your family has a history of it or if you suffer from estrogen/testosterone deficiency. Long term use of medication such as thyroid-replacement medication or corticosteroids can also cause this problem.

One of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis will be to ensure that you’re consuming enough calcium rich foods such as green vegetables, yogurt, milk, kale, sardines, etc. Avoid excessive protein intake and sodas which contain phosphates and caffeine – these products leech bone minerals and weaken your bones.

Common signs of osteoporosis are back pain, a hunched posture and your height may seem to have decreased. It’s best to see a doctor so that he or she can conduct a bone-density test to calculate the mineral density of your bones.

By the time you experience back pain due to osteoporosis, the problem has become quite severe. You’ll need to take immediate measures to arrest bone loss.

 

• Calcium supplements

You’ll need to get a calcium supplement that has about 500 mg of calcium per tablet. Take 3 tablets daily. The difference between prevention and treatment is that with prevention, you could just eat broccoli and other calcium rich foods.

Once you already have the problem, you really need to get your daily intake. Trying to get your calcium from normal food is difficult because you’ll need to consume a lot of food just to give you the same amount of calcium that you can get from a pill.

So, just get a high-quality calcium supplement from a reputable health store and you should be good to go.

 

• Vitamin D

You’ll need to get a vitamin D supplement to aid in the absorption of the calcium. Without sufficient vitamin D in your system, most of the calcium you consume will be excreted. Your doctor will be the best person to advise you here.

 

• Resistance training

The MOST important and powerful weapon for battling osteoporosis is resistance training. It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when your bones are frail. However, the truth of the matter is that when you exercise against gravity, your bones and ligaments get stronger.

Weight training does not just build muscle mass. It also strengthens your bones. While cardio training such as walking, running, etc. help to keep you in shape and preserve bone mass, nothing comes close to resistance training.

You would do well to join a gym or even just use weights at home to work your muscles. Squats, deadlifts, push-ups, rows, etc. are all excellent exercises that will strengthen your bones.

By following the 3 tips above, you’ll help to halt the advance of osteoporosis. You’ll feel better, and the exercise will make you stronger and fitter. The endorphins released during training will also act as a form of pain relief.

Your doctor may recommend treatments such as vertebroplasty, etc. So, be well-informed and do your own research before making a wise decision.

WORLD OSTEOPOROSIS DAY, 20th OCTOBER…

World Osteoporosis day

On 20 October 2013 it’s World Osteoporosis Day, organised by International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) to raise awareness of this condition which causes bones to become thin and frail.

The not for profit foundation was established in 1998 to provide a global alliance for those concerned about bone health and to help those who suffer from osteoporosis.

The disease causes a reduction in the density and quality of the bones, which increases the risk of fractures. Quite often a person does not realise that they have the disease until they suffer their first fracture.

The most common places for the fractures are the hip, spine and wrist. And the risk of fracture increases in both men and women with age. However, osteoporosis is a treatable condition – and with lifestyle changes and medical treatment many fracture can now be avoided.

The IOF aims to improve public awareness and understanding of the condition, as well as informing individuals and health care professionals on the best treatments.

They also fund clinical research to constantly try and beat osteoporosis. All donations will be used to help the IOF to promote awareness, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis for sufferers all across the world.

The day marks the launch of a year-long campaign dedicated to raising global awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. Each year features a different campaign theme and message.

The theme for 2013, ‘postmenopausal women & their bone health,’ will highlight the reasons why women in particular are at greatest risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Additionally, the marketing of WOD2013 will include an emphasis on intergenerational bone health awareness, and secondary fracture prevention messages will be integrated into the 2013 theme when possible.

DIY TEST FOR OSTEOPOROSIS…

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A free online quiz has been developed for people to assess their risk of developing brittle bones. The questionnaire has been developed by the World Health Organisation and scientists at Sheffield University.

The ‘Frax’ Osteoporosis Risk Tool is aimed at 40-90 year olds and uses 12 factors including age, diet, and alcohol intake, to calculate the likelihood of fractures.

Users can then view guidance from the National Osteoporosis Guildline Group to determine their risk category.

To use this programme go to http://www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX/tool.jsp