What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and are more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated. Osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. The fractures are typically in the hips, spine, wrists. Complications from hip fracture surgery can lead to death.

Maximum bone density is attained between the ages of 20 & 30. After 30, as the person grows older, there is a gradual loss of bone density and strength. In women, after menopause, the loss in bone density is rapid. Bones become more porous, weaker and fragile. This increases the risk of fracture.

Important facts about the disease;

Osteoporosis effects over 6.1 crore people in India alone, a majority of these being women.

In the past, just like heart disease, Osteoporosis was also considered a part of ageing. Today, young people are encouraged to have have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly in order to prevent heart disease. Similarly, v can also be prevented if detected early.

Osteoporosis is a disease of epidemic proportions. Over 50% of all women are susceptible to fractures due to Osteoporosis during their lifetime. A vertebral fracture can cause a spine collapse and lead to significant pain, height loss and stooped posture. The risk of a hip fracture in women are larger than the sum of the risks of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

How can Osteoporosis affect your life?

Hip fracture is the most serious consequence of Osteoporosis. In most cases, people cannot look after themselves or move around freely. Often, they have to be admitted to a nursing home. Over 10% of hip fracture victims die within one year of the fracture and more than 50% of survivors are incapacitated.

Osteoporosis can also cause spinal fractures in a person who just bends over to pick up something or lifts a light package.

Routine activities such as household cleaning, shopping or participating in social events often become difficult and a painful experience. In addition to pain and anxiety, people with Osteoporosis experience very low self esteem.

It is very important to prevent further loss of bone mass in people with Osteoporosis. Fortunately, therapy is now available to reduce the possibility of having to go through these frightful situations.

What can you do to help yourself?

The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Every women must realize that she is potentially at risk of getting Osteoporosis. You can take steps now to prevent broken bones later. To determine if you have Osteoporosis or are at risk, you should undergo a Lunar Bone Densitometry Test. Based on the test report and your medical history, your doctor will assess your fracture risk.

Once you have Osteoporosis, can anything be really done?

Yes, definitely. A variety of treatments are available to slow down bone loss and prevent the fractures cased by Osteoporosis. If you are diagnosed as having Osteoporosis, your doctor will prescribe a treatment program that is right for you.

There are effective treatments, even for those who have already suffered fractures from Osteoporosis and are in pain. Oestrogen are an effective treatment option for post-menopausal women. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) studies have shown that the number of spinal and hip fractures can be reduced to half. Adequate calcium and vitamin D along with exercise programs, can all be combined to increase strength, half bone loss and reduce the risk of future fractures.

Besides there are other treatment options like Bisphosphonates and Calcitonin which are now available in India.

Some questions you would like us to answer;

Isn't Osteoporosis just a part of growing old?

No! it is not true that Osteoporosis was once thought to be a consequence of ageing, particularly for women. We now know that Osteoporosis is a disease. When you realize that it is a disease, with specific causes, you will also understand that it can be prevented and treated.

Why do women get Osteoporosis more often than men?

Men also develop Osteoporosis. But men develop a higher bone density as children and young adults because they participate in physical activities more often and their calcium intake tends to be more adequate. This helps to protect them. All women experience menopause, which causes oestrogen levels to decline dramatically. This causes a marked loss of bone. If men had a male menopause, we would see more Osteoporosis in men. Despite this 20% of Osteoporosis patients are men.

Will I have any warning that I am developing Osteoporosis?

Not from the way you feel. The loss of bone is silent. A woman can feel perfectly well today and have a spinal or hip fracture tomorrow from Osteoporosis. Since Osteoporosis is symptomless and the first sign of the disease if often fracture, it is essential that each individual assesses her personal risk for the disease by getting a Lunar Bone Densitometry Test done.

How do I know I am at risk of developing Osteoporosis?

Only one test can accurately measure the bone strength and predict your risk of having a fracture. This test is Bone Densitometry and is now available in India.

How much does a Bone Densitometry test costs?

The cost of general screening test is Rs. 1000 or US $25

How often do I need to get a Bone Densitometry test done?

Most Doctors recommend having the first test done between the age of 25and 35. This will help determine if you need any therapy to protect your bones. If you are being treated for Osteoporosis, a Bone Densitometry test may be done yearly to monitor the progress of your treatment. From a preventive standpoint, Bone Densitometry testing generally needed only 3-4 times during a woman's lifetime.

Is the test painful or uncomfortable?

Not at all. The general screening test is done by just placing one foot in an Ultrasound Bone Densitometer. You DO NOT have to change clothes or make any preparation and the test is over in 2 minutes.

Where can I get the test done?

Most leading diagnostic centre and hospitals in India are installing Bone Densitometers. This test is available at CHAWLA NURSING HOME & MATERNITY HOSPITAL , 9 LINK ROAD, LAJPAT NAGAR, JALANDHAR.

Should I spend so much money on a test?

If not prevented. Osteoporosis could lead to fractures which can cost you thousands of rupees. Also, they may incapacitate you (make you bedridden). Where, instead of you taking care of family, you will need them to look after you.