Osteoporosis (bone loss) – causes, symptoms and treatment


at Osteoporosis (bone loss) It is a chronic disease in which bone mass decreases as the disease progresses. As a result, the skeleton becomes unstable, the bones become porous and the risk of fractures increases. Osteoporosis can affect both individual bones and the entire skeleton.


There is a distinction between primary and secondary osteoporosis. The majority of sufferers of bone loss suffer from the primary osteoporosis, which begins with the climacteric (postmenopausal osteoporosis) or from the age of seventy (senile osteoporosis).

The secondary osteoporosis is caused by long-term use of medication, such as cortisone; as a result of another illness (including diabetes mellitus, rheumatism, hyperthyroidism) or excessive consumption of nicotine or alcohol.

There are a few factors that increase the risk of bone loss:

    Smoking medications like Ant > Underweight A lack of vitamin D and calcium Various diseases such as diabetes mellitus, rheumatism > Estrogen deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in young women or girls Lack of exercise Genetic factors

Women are more likely to be affected by osteoporosis than men.


As long as there is a slight reduction in bone mass, as a rule, no symptoms appear yet. Over time, so-called spontaneous fractures occur: fractures that have no apparent cause.

After a fracture usually pain occurs, so that movements are often no longer possible. In osteoporosis most often break the vertebral bodies. Such a vertebral fracture is very painful, but as the back pain starts shooting in, those affected assume a lumbago or sciatica.

Vertebral fractures are noticeable in the long term by a crooked lumbar spine, a round back and a reduction in height by a few centimeters. As this change progresses, the lower ribs may come into direct contact with the iliac crest, causing severe pain. The sufferers take due to the pain, a posture and this causes painful tension of the muscles after.


For the diagnosis, an anamnesis is first carried out, which deals with possible pre-existing conditions and the exact symptoms. After the conversation, the person concerned is examined physically.

If there is a suspicion of an anamnesis and physical examination for osteoporosis, further investigations are necessary, for example:

    Measurement of bone density Computed tomography X-ray examination

On the radiograph, however, only changes in the bone structure can be seen, if the osteoporosis is already advanced. In the early stages, this can not be detected by X-ray.

In order to rule out other diseases, a blood test is often performed. Rarely, a bone sample is taken. This is usually only the case when it is suspected that a tumor could be behind the discomfort.


The treatment of osteoporosis has the primary goal of influencing the bone metabolism so that further fractures can be prevented. If fractures have already occurred, they are acutely treated and pain is alleviated.

If left untreated, osteoporosis will progress steadily and bones will become increasingly fragile and unstable. The therapy should therefore be started as early as possible.

The treatment is usually a combination of different measures:

    Underweight weight gain is necessary and the normal weight is aimed Important is the supply of vitamin D and calcium. Possible medications, such as bisphosphonates, which increase bone density or antiestrogens to reduce the risk of fractures of the vertebral bodies. Calcitonin is used when other measures are unsuccessful. This endogenous hormone stops the breakdown of bones and relieves the pain. For menopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy with estrogens may be considered if there is a high risk of bone fracture.

Exercise and exercise are highly recommended because bone metabolism is positively influenced by physical activity. People who do sports are rarely affected by osteoporosis. In case of bone loss, sports such as strength training, walking, tai-chi and gymnastics are suitable.


Preventive measures and timely treatment can positively influence the course of osteoporosis. That is, one can counteract the development of bone loss and also influence the progression of the disease.

If osteoporosis remains untreated, the course progresses and the following changes can occur:

    Decrease in body size formation of a round back bone pain fractures

In the advanced stage, the bone loss is associated with restricted mobility and chronic pain. If no countermeasures are taken, it may be that in the further course of a life without help is no longer possible.

Lowering bone density increases the risk of bone fractures. Thus, in the advanced course in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis (bone loss, which arises from the menopause) often leads to vertebral body fractures. In osteoporosis, femoral neck fractures often occur.


With a balanced diet, enough exercise and a healthy lifestyle, osteoporosis can be prevented.

Diet and lifestyle

With the nutrition is to be particularly paid attention to a sufficient supply with calcium and vitamin D. The recommended daily amount of calcium is between 1000 and 1500 milligrams. Sometimes it is not enough to meet the needs with calcium-containing foods. Then it should be discussed with the doctor, if and which dietary supplements should be taken.

Vitamin D is formed by daylight. In countries like Germany, there is often a vitamin D deficiency in the cold season. However, the need is already covered by staying outdoors for at least half an hour every day.

When it comes to nutrition, the sufficient amount of calories also plays a role in the risk of osteoporosis. Often, young women absorb fewer calories to keep them slim. But: If you are underweight at a young age, you can expect a higher risk of bone loss later.

Osteoporosis is favored by nicotine and alcohol, so preventive measures should largely be avoided when consuming alcohol and tobacco.


With regular exercise, the new formation of bone cells is stimulated and thus builds up bone mass – a good prevention for osteoporosis. Especially recommended are strength training, hiking, rowing and climbing. In these sports, the bone metabolism is stimulated, so that new bone cells can form.

Although the bone metabolism is not as well cranked by jogging, walking or other endurance sports as in weight training, but these forms of movement are good for the bones.


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Christina Cherry
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