World Osteoporosis Day - October 20

Postmenopausal Health - Osteoporosis

Woman are taken for granted to be in good health always. But the truth is many of them neglect their health and land up in early osteoporosis which is early loss of bone mass. Menopausal women and those who had early removal of their ovaries should take care of their bone health.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones are very thin and therefore can break very easily and fracture even with small falls and minimum pressure. The progression of osteoporosis can be stopped by appropriate investigation and treatment, hence awareness of this condition is very helpful.

Moreover, Asian women are more prone to this condition.

Causes

Age and menopause are the major causes. This along with obesity, low body weight, sedentary lifestyle, vitamin D deficiency and calcium deficiency are frequently seen in patients with osteoporosis. In some women, this condition is worsened as a consequence of radiotherapy, diabetes, poor absorption due to gut problems and long-term use of medications such as steroids and phenytoin.

Signs and Symptoms

Osteoporosis can be very silent for a long time. Women have aches and pains that are usually tolerable until the time they have a small trip or fall and find that they have broken their bone.

Did you know?

Your bones are constantly growing and breaking down. It is the balance between these two processes that keeps the bones healthy. Peak bone mass is achieved at age 30!

Can It Be Prevented?

Women, especially postmenopausal women and women with the above risk factors should get a DEXA bone densitometry scan periodically. A baseline scan is advisable at age 50 for all women. If there are early signs of bone thinning, a quick assessment and treatment will prevent progression.

What Exercises Does One Need to Do to Prevent Worsening of Osteoporosis?

Strengthening exercises for upper body and arms using small weights and weight bearing exercises such as walking and running for the lower body are extremely helpful.

What Does Menopause Have to Do with Osteoporosis?

Estrogen has bone protective effects. This is lost due to a lack of estrogen with menopause. This is especially so when women go through premature menopause (earlier than normal). There are some women who need their estrogen hormone replaced to prevent worsening osteoporosis. Estrogen supplementation is not the first line of management for osteoporosis but it is indicated if women go through early menopause or have other menopausal symptoms. This recommendation is usually done after a complete assessment by a gynaecologist.

Did you know?

Fresh leafy greens, dairy products such as milk and curd and daily exposure to sunlight for at least 15-20 minutes help our bones!

How Can It Be Treated?

The treatment is based on the severity. In women with mild disease, supplementation of calcium and vitamin D and treatment of underlying conditions such as thyroid abnormalities and diabetes will suffice.

Women with moderate to severe osteoporosis might require medication such a bisphosphonates, hormone replacement therapy and biologics that slow bone break down.

Dr. V.L. Vaishnavy

Dr. V.L. Vaishnavy, MD; MRCOG; DFSRH; CCT(U.K)
Consultant Gynaecologist and Urogynaecologist
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai

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