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Understanding Osteoporosis: Causes, Risk factors, and Treatment

Dr. (Prof). SM Tuli, Visiting Consultant, Orthopedics & Joint Replacement, Vimhans Nayati Super specialty Hospital, New Delhi, discusses about Osteoporosis, its impact and the ways to manage it

Osteoporosis is an ailment afflicting millions of people all over the world, with several cases of fractures as well as a life-long condition of poor posture and accompanied pain. It leads to enhanced bone fragility and thus increases a person’s susceptibility to fractures, however, it is still rather unknown and under-managed in India’s villages and towns.

Characterized by low bone mass, Osteoporosis is a “silent disease” and is usually not evident until a fracture occurs. However, it may cause recurring back pain, hip pain and generalized bone pain probably due to the associated vitamin D deficiency – and thus can be casually considered as a trivial condition. That, however, is far from the truth, since Osteoporosis afflicted men and women suffer from pain and broken bones quit often.

In certain cases, multiple instances of fracture/crushing of bones in spine may even lead to loss of height or cause the spine to bend forward resulting in a hunched back appearance (round kyphosis).

In India, around 50 million people are estimated to be either osteoporotic with less than 2.5 T-score or have a low bone mass with T-Score ranging between 1 to 2.5

To learn about the disease and the ways to manage it, we sat with Dr. (Prof). SM Tuli, Visiting Consultant, Orthopedics & Joint Replacement, Vimhans Nayati Super specialty Hospital and discussed about the ways to make Osteoporosis less prominent in older men and women.

So, what causes Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can occur at any age. Elderly people are at higher risk because of degenerative bone density loss. Other causes include:

  • Deficiency of estrogen (female sex hormonal, as seen after menopause and surgical removal of Ovaries)
  • Diet low in calcium especially before 30 years of age
  • Deficiency of vitamin D, lack of exposure to sunlight
  • Sedentary lifestyle and prolonged immobilization
  • Lack of weight-bearing activities and exercises
  • Excessive smoking or tobacco chewing and alcohol consumption can speed up bone loss
  • Family history of osteoporotic fractures
  • Decreased testosterone (male sex hormone) levels in males (usually after 60 years of age)

Can it be prevented or managed, if at all?

Yes! Addressing bone health and any subtle indications of pain and poor structure can help patients manage and understand their bone health and counter Osteoporosis. Since humans develop bone mass till they’re 30, prevention of Osteoporosis can be done by regular exercise, eating bone-foods (Dairy products milk & products, fruits, vegetables, eggs & dry fruits) and reaching a “peak bone mass”.

Higher the peak bone mass, lesser are chances of severe Osteoporosis.

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How can Osteoporosis be managed?

Once you’ve been diagnosed with Osteoporosis, your main objective should be to control its severity and ensure treatment to prevent further bone loss. Patients can also look at maintaining bone strength through physiotherapy in order to avoid fractures.

Tips for maintaining bone health:

  • Balanced diet (rich in calcium and vitamin D): Milk, Curd and cottage cheese (Paneer) are among the rich sources
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Avoiding Consumption of alcohol and tobacco, limit intake of caffeine
  • Avoid the use of bone toxic drugs
  • Ensure around 20 minutes of exposure to the rays of the sun daily

Nayati Healthcare currently operates its flagship hospital, Nayati Medicity in Mathura, Nayati Hospital in Agra and Vimhans Nayati Super Specialty Hospital in Nehru Nagar, Delhi. Its upcoming hospitals include Nayati Sunderlal Jain Super Specialty Hospital in Ashok Vihar and Nayati Multi Super Specialty Hospital in Gurugram.

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