Osteoporosis Symptoms — What to Know About Osteoporosis

Experts estimate that osteoporosis affects 200 million people all around the world. To put these numbers into perspective, the International Osteoporosis Foundation speculates that about a third of women and a fifth of men over the age of 50 will develop this condition at some point during their lives. A serious medical condition, this disease is characterized by weakened bones, low bone mass, lack of balance, and bone loss, all of which can lead to serious complications like falls and fractures. According to some estimates, over 268,000 people in the US are hospitalized every year due to osteoporosis-related fractures, making this disease a major health concern for older adults everywhere.

What is Osteoporosis?

  1. Misplacing everyday items: Occasional misplacement of items such as the TV remote or car keys is typical. However, individuals usually find them after retracing their steps.
  2. Occasional forgetfulness: It's common to have some difficulty in finding the right words or to occasionally forget something that someone just mentioned and ask them to repeat themselves once. This is usually due to momentary lapses in attention.
  3. Slight issues with name recall: Forgetting someone's name but later recalling it or mistakenly calling a grandchild by their sibling's name is often attributed to harmless memory lapses.
  4. Missing appointments here and there: Having small issues keeping track of dates and missing a doctor's appointment scheduled a month ago can happen to anyone, especially those with a busy schedule full of daily tasks and social obligations.
  5. Confusion with complex tasks: Becoming temporarily confused when managing complex tasks like finances or organizing a trip is common. It may lead to temporary frustration but doesn't necessarily signal a significant issue.

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Osteoporosis means “porous bones.” As the name suggests, people with this medical condition have porous bones that are weak and brittle, putting them at higher risk of fractures and falls.

What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

Many professionals call osteoporosis a silent disease because its symptoms are easy to miss or are common signs of other conditions.

That said, common signs of osteoporosis include:

  • Back pain
  • Loss of height
  • Slouching or a hunched back
  • Frequent falls
  • Broken bones

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Like most other medical conditions, there is no single cause of osteoporosis; it can occur due to a variety of factors, including those that are unavoidable, like age, and those that are within our control, like smoking.

Common risk factors of osteoporosis include:

How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?

When someone has osteoporosis, the body is unable to create enough new bone to replace the loss of old bone, leading to low bone mass or low bone density. A bone density test can therefore help medical professionals diagnose this condition.

Bone density scans that can check bone mineral density include:

  • Standard X-rays
  • DEXA scans (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry)
  • Specialized CT scans

Tests with low bone density results signal a bone disease like osteoporosis or osteopenia. Osteopenia is a condition characterized by low bone mass, and it is not as severe as full-blown osteoporosis. While many people with osteopenia eventually develop osteoporosis, not everyone does, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

How is Osteoporosis Treated?

Left untreated, this condition leads to an increased risk of falling, joint and back pain, and bone fractures, especially hip, wrist, forearm, and spinal fractures.

Popular osteoporosis treatments include:

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! While it is not possible to control all risk factors for osteoporosis, some are within our control, meaning that we can take actions now to reduce our risk of developing this condition later in life.

To learn more about how to prevent and treat osteoporosis, please go here.

Caring for Older Adults with Osteoporosis at St. Andrew's

St. Andrew's is all about catering senior care to the individual needs of each and every resident that enters our network of senior living communities. That means helping a resident with osteoporosis prevent falls with easy room layouts, crafting meals that meet all dietary needs, and helping the resident discover a physical activity to enjoy. No matter what someone needs, our dedicated team of compassionate professionals can work with each resident to create a care plan and lifestyle that works for them.

Contact Us to Learn More

Disclaimers - This article does not constitute professional medical advice; it cannot diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult with a licensed medical professional/healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise programs, diets, or supplement routines.

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