The body changes over the years. Until about the age of 30, it diligently builds up bone mass, after which it goes downhill. Osteoporosis occurs when the body either builds up too little bone mass or breaks it down too quickly. As a result, bones can break even under low stress. Rheumatoid arthritis, hormone disorders, hyperthyroidism, ankylosing spondylitis or chronic gastrointestinal diseases can also lead to osteoporosis. In most cases, however, bone loss occurs without any previous disease. But what is the treatment? When should osteoporosis therapy be started?
Symptoms of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone mass decreases and the bones become more susceptible to fracture, even at low levels of stress.
The disease may be manifested, for example, by sudden and persistent back pain. Special attention is paid to bone fractures that occur without strong external impact. In this context, one speaks of ” low-energy fractures”. Sometimes vertebral bodies can even fracture unnoticed and without pain. A typical example is radius fractures, where the radius breaks at the wrist, often without being preceded by a severe fall.
Other signs of osteoporosis may include:
- Reduction in the distance between the ribs and the pelvis to less than two finger widths
- Loss of height of more than four centimeters within one year
- Very low body weight or unintentional weight loss of more than ten percent
Causes of osteoporosis
Bones are made of a protein framework that gives them their hardness. With them are calcium and phosphorus minerals. Bones are not yet fully formed, even in adults, but are in a constant process of remodeling. This remodeling is controlled by special cells: osteoblasts and osteoclasts.
Bone formation predominates until around the age of 30/35, after which bone resorption sets in.In osteoporosis, the cells that break down bone (osteoclasts) are more active than the cells that build up bone (osteoblasts). As a result, the bone breaks down too quickly and becomes porous.
Before osteoporosis therapy, careful diagnosis is important
We generally recommend that women over 60 and men over 70 have their risk of osteoporosis assessed by bone density measurement in our private practice for orthopedics and traumatology in Frankfurt. During the examination, we X-ray your lumbar spine and neck of femur with a low dose of certain X-rays. In the process, we can determine your bone density as a so-called T-value.
This indicates by how many units your measured bone density deviates from the reference value – that is, the bone density that is assumed to be standard for a 30-year-old person. With this examination, we can diagnose osteoporosis in just 20 minutes.
By the way: Even though bone loss is more common in older people, young women and men can also suffer from it. Reasons for this include genetic factors, hormone disorders, certain diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or anorexia) or the long-term use of certain medications (such as corticosteroids).
It is important that younger people in the above risk group also keep track of their osteoporosis risk and take steps to protect their bone health, if necessary.
Therapy for osteoporosis: starting treatment as early as possible
The time at which you should start osteoporosis treatment depends on several factors. In general, we recommend therapy for people who are at increased risk for osteoporosis-related fractures. This includes women and men with previous osteoporotic fractures, low bone density (as measured by bone densitometry), or other risk factors. These include, for example, (older) age, certain diseases, or medications that increase the risk of bone loss.
These options are available for the therapy of osteoporosis
The first step in the treatment of osteoporosis is so-called lifestyle measures. This means that you should focus on a balanced diet with sufficient calcium and vitamin D. Regular exercise is also especially important to counteract your bone loss.
If you have an increased risk of bone fractures or if your bone loss is already advanced, drug therapy can help. Various active substances are available for this purpose.Bone loss can be reduced with so-called bisphosphonates. There are also drugs such as denosumab (as an alternative to bisphosphonates), raloxifene (selective estrogen receptor modulator for post-menopausal women) and teriparatide (for severe cases; stimulates bone formation).
Special exercise programs to reduce the risk of falls are also a valuable component in the treatment of bone loss.
Osteoporosis therapy in Frankfurt
We focus on you and your bone health! Our dedicated team specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. We understand the challenges posed by this disease and will accompany you on your journey.
Feel free to make an appointment!
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