Risks and Complications of Osteoporosis

Risks and Complications of Osteoporosis


Every year, several thousand men and women fall prey to Osteoporosis, also known as brittle bone disease. While a majority of victims of this bone related ailment belong to their 50s or later years, Osteoporosis can also happen in younger generations. This disease basically causes loss of bone density turning them weak. As a result, affected bones tend to get fractured easily. It takes place when a person’s body cannot absorb calcium and vitamin D, two building blocks and loses them faster than they are absorbed. It can happen to nearly any bone in human body but majority of Osteoporosis related fractures affect body parts like hip and spine.

Osteoporosis can be divided into two main types- primary and secondary. Primary osteoporosis is observed mostly in post menopausal women. Secondary osteoporosis affects people belonging to middle age and younger generations.

What Are the Causes of Osteoporosis?

There are several causes for osteoporosis and some of them may be beyond control.

  • Estrogen level reduction post menopause- Women tend to produce lesser amounts of estrogen after entering menopause. This hormone is essential for bone repair process. It has been seen that women who undergo menopause earlier than others face enhanced risk of progressive bone disease.
  • Diet- Human bones are made mostly of Calcium and Vitamin D helps in the absorption of this mineral. People who lack these two nutrients in diet, lose bone mass quickly as they age.
  • Genetic roots- Like many other ailments, Osteoporosis can be triggered by genetic roots. People with family history of elders developing weak and fragile bones are more susceptible to Osteoporosis. People in European and Asian countries face increased risk if the disease exists in family.
  • Lifestyle factors- Certain lifestyle factors, including regular drinking, smoking and using specific medications are also counted among the causes for osteoporosis. People who do not exercise or spend many hours watching TV lose bone mass faster than others and they fall prey to this disease.
  • Health conditions- At times, people afflicted with specific ailments may develop progressive bone disease. For example, people afflicted with type 2 diabetes, primary hyperparathyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from bone density loss, leading to Osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

The most commonplace symptom of Osteoporosis is fractures that happen at minor falls and incidents. Moderate to severe back pain is among osteoporosis symptoms as well. At times, osteoporosis can cause numerous fractures in human spine and these results in upper back curving or small height loss. The amount of pain can vary on type of fracture. Hairline breaks in bones and spine cause little pain. However, when the fracture in spine is deeper, victims can feel acute back pain even when they sneeze or cough.

Complications of Osteoporosis

Apart from losing bone density and suffering from bone and spine fractures, victims of Osteoporosis can also develop complications that can make life painful and crippled. A majority of victims, especially elderly women, require long term nursing care after hip fracture. In some elderly victims, pneumonia can set in and they also develop clots in leg veins. If these clots reach lungs in such people, they might die untimely. Osteoporosis caused spinal fractures enhance risk of another facture in subsequent years.

Ways to Prevent Onset of Osteoporosis

  • The much used saying –‘Prevention is better than cure’ holds true for Osteoporosis as well. While genetic factors cannot be helped, people can always practice caution to prevent onset of this bone decaying ailment.
  • Regular calcium intake- Having a diet rich in natural sources of calcium is the best way to prevent bone density loss. Including natural sources of Vitamin D in diet is also necessary for same reason.
  • Refraining from alcohol, smoking- People who refrain from smoking and drinking also suffer less from bone loss.
  • Exercise and active lifestyle- Active lifestyle helps keeping bones in shape and aids natural bone repair process, thereby keeping Osteoporosis at bay. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, climbing stairs can be useful for this.
  • Sehat provides list of best Orthopedic Surgeons in Chennai from which you can research and choose the right doctor for your condition.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad