Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile and have an increased susceptibility to fracture. In osteoporosis, the bones weaken and the chances of them breaking increases.The bone density starts to decrease after 35 years of age, and this happen rapidly in women after menopause. Osteoporosis results in abnormally porous bone, thereby the bone becoming compressible like a sponge.
What are the Causes of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is caused by a few key risk factors as shown below:
- Lack of exercise
- Deficiency of calcium and vitamin D
- Personal history of fracture
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- History of rheumatoid arthritis
- Low body weight
- Caucasian or Asian race women
- Low levels of estrogen in women
- Low testosterone levels in men
- Amenorrhea in young women which is associated with low estrogen
- Hyperthyroidism as it interferes with the calcium levels in the body
What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis does not necessarily have to have any symptoms. It can be presented without any symptoms until a bone breaks. The symptom associated is pain. Spinal fracture causes severe pain that radiates from the back to the sides of the body. Repeated spinal fractures lead to curving of the spine due to collapse of the vertebrae. With osteoporosis, hip fractures occur as a result of trivial slip-and-fall accidents.
Physiology of Osteoporosis
Bones undergo remodeling during adult life on regular intervals in which the osteoblasts and osteoclasts are involved in a coordinated action. Osteoblasts help form new bones, whereas osteoclasts are responsible for bone resorption. These cells are under hormonal regulation. The major cause of osteoporosis is estrogen deficiency, resulting in more bone resorption thanbone formation. Corticosteroids also induce osteoporosis by suppressing the osteoblastic activity.
How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?
Osteoporotic bone appears thinner and lighter than normal bones. Thus osteoporosis can be diagnosed using routine X-ray. Unfortunately, X-rays are not accurate. Therefore, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan came into use. This technique is quite precise, takes only 15 minutes, and patients are under minimal radiation. Men and women above 50 years are more prone to osteoporosis and fractures due to falling down. Hence, they must be diagnosed regularly for their bone density.
How is Osteoporosis Treated?
Treatment of osteoporosis includes the prevention of bone fractures, and increasing the bone density and strength. Although early detection of osteoporosis and treatment can decrease the risk of fractures, none of the modes of treatment can cure osteoporosis completely. Prevention of osteoporosis is as important as treatment because a damaged bone cannot be rebuild new. Following are some treatment options:
- Lifestyle changes, including reducing alcohol intake, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and consuming adequate calcium and vitamin D.
- Allopathic medications can help in strengthening of the bones by stopping bone loss.
Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoporosis
Research reports states that exogenous introduction of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) therapy reduces the susceptibility of fractures. It augments lost mineral density by either increasing the numbers or restoring the function of resident stem cells as these resident stem cells can proliferate and differentiate into bone-forming cells also after transplantation of stem cells can contribute to bone formation by paracrine activities like secreting growth hormones which in turn activates the other local cells to repair the damaged bone and tissue.