Osteoporosis treatment – what is available?
Many older women have some degree of osteoporosis, a degenerative disease that affects bones. Osteoporosis treatments are available but their chance of success is far higher the
earlier the problem is tackled. By far the best osteoporosis treatment is prevention – the more that you can do in terms of lifestyle changes to avoid osteoporosis, the less likely your bones are to become brittle in later life.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone condition that results in weaker, more brittle bones, especially in post-menopausal women cialis 20mg suisse. It is the cause of the characteristic stoop in the gait of many old people. It can actually reduce a person’s height quite significantly, as the vertebrae struggle to support the body’s weight.
The amount of minerals deposited in the bones is controlled by sex hormones, such as oestrogen in women and testosterone in men. As the amount of sex hormones drops rapidly following the menopause, the density of women’s bones becomes reduced and the bones become thinner. This leaves them less flexible and less able to bear weight.
Who needs osteoporosis treatment?
Osteoporosis affects over 3 million people in the UK alone and around 20% of women over 60. It is estimated that up to ¼ million fractures a year occur as a result of osteoporosis, including 60 000 hip fractures. What’s more, 15%-20% of people who suffer an osteoporotic hip fracture will die within a year from causes related to the fracture. The need for effective osteoporosis treatment is therefore quite substantial
Unfortunately, osteoporosis often goes undetected until the patient has a fall or other accident that results in a broken bone. However, it can be detected in the early stages using duel energy X-ray absorbtiometry (DEXA). This scan will analyse the density of your bones and show whether you have got, or are likely to develop, osteoporosis, long before any outward symptoms can be seen.
What osteoporosis treatments are available?
The main aim of osteoporosis treatment is to
slow down the mineral loss through medical intervention, and try, where possible, to strengthen the bones and surrounding muscle tissue through improvements in diet and exercise.
The main osteoporosis treatments include:
* Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) This was once very widely prescribed for osteoporosis treatment, however this is less commonplace now, as the hormones involved have been linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and breast cancer. Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are sometimes used to mimic the role of the hormone oestrogen in osteoporosis treatment. Testosterone replacement is still used as an osteoporosis treatment for men.
* Biphosphonates These are non-hormonal drugs that slow that rate at which bone is broken down by osteoclasts and stimulate the production of new bone.
* Strontium ranelate and the thyroid hormone calcitonin can also be used to prevent and reverse bone loss.
* Dietary changes are also recommended as part of osteoporosis treatment, with a daily intake of at least 700mg of calcium. This equates to roughly the calcium in a pint of milk. Vitamin D supplements also play an important role
Preventive osteoporosis treatment
The fight against osteoporosis cannot begin soon enough in your life. Regular exercise and careful attention to diet can go a long way towards
maintaining healthy, strong bones that repair themselves properly. Smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, giving you yet another good reason to quit.
Weight bearing exercises, such as running, dancing and aerobics, and resistance exercises, such as those found in a typical gym, are ideal for strengthening the entire musculo-skeletal system. Regular exercise of around 30 minutes, three or four times a week will put you in the best possible position to fight the bone changes that lead to osteoporosis.
Profile of the author
Dr Kathryn Senior is an acclaimed medical journalist who has written over 500 feature articles for leading international journals within The Lancet group. As Senior Writer at Freelance Copy she produces high quality scientific and medical content for websites and printed publications for companies and organisations in the health, medical and pharmaceutical sectors.