AMC Clinic Osteoporosis Campaign Day
By Alpro Pharmacy
March 10, 2021
Osteoporosis is often debilitating and greatly affects the lives of those who are unfortunate to get it.
To create some awareness regarding this condition, we compiled some of the FAQs about this often under-looked and under-treated disease.
Do you know what osteoporosis is?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that weakens our bones, making them thinner and easier to break.
It can cause bone fracture which leads to pain, poor posture, and significant impact to one’s quality of life.
How do I know if I have osteoporosis?
Most people don’t know they are at risk. Most people are diagnosed only after they have had a fall which is too late. Hence it is important to do check-up and screening for those at risk
Am I at risk?
If you are in any one of the below categories, seek opinion from your doctors to get a screening done and to assess your risk.
Advancing age (>50 years old)
Ethnic group (Oriental & Caucasian)
Female gender especially postmenopausal or premature menopause (< 45 years)
Estrogen deficiency related diseases
Low calcium and/or vitamin D intake
Excessive alcohol intake
Excessive caffeine intake
Family history of osteoporotic hip
Low body weight (BMI < 19kg/m2 )
What are some of the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis?
There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you might experience symptoms that include pain, loss of height over time as well as a stooped posture. Ultimately, osteoporosis causes a bone to break much more easily than expected.
How do you diagnose it?
In a hospital setting, usually the doctor will order a bone mineral density test called Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scan. It is a painless procedure using X-Rays to measure bone density, usually at the hip and spine.
It is also possible to have screening done in an outpatient setting using a small, portable machine that can measure bone density in the bones, at the far ends of your skeleton, usually at the heels. The instruments used for these tests are called peripheral devices. These tests are to identify your T-Score which is used together with other parameters to calculate your risk of having osteoporosis.
If I am diagnosed with osteoporosis, what are the treatments?
When your T-Score is less than -2.5, your doctor will suggest to undergo treatment. Generally, treatments are based on estimation of your risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years by using information from bone density tests. Medical treatment includes medication such as bisphosphonate (eg. alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, zoledronic acid), monoclonal antibody medications (eg. denosumab) as well as hormonal therapy (eg. Estrogen). Non medical measures should also be practised such as:
- Stop cigarette smoking – smoking increases the rate of bone loss and the chance of fracture
- Avoid alcohol – consuming alcohol will decrease bone formation; also if you are under influence of alcohol, it can increase the chance of you falling and fracture a bone, ouch!
- Practice regular exercise – exercise helps to strengthen your muscle strength, improve your balance/posture and reduce the risk of you falling.
- Take calcium and activated Vitamin D rich diet or supplement such as for eg. fresh fruits (orange, dates, olives), vegetable (kale, collards, spinach, broccoli), beans and legumes, eggs, nuts, fish, fortified dairy/ juices/cereal/oatmeal etc.
- Proper shoe wear – to avoid slip and fall
Is it true that osteoporosis only affects the elderly?
Not necessary. Conditions such as juvenile osteoporosis(which usually happens at puberty), idiopathic osteoporosis (which happens in young adults) are some of the conditions that can affect even young people.
If my parents have it, does that mean that I might have it too?
Osteoporosis does run in families. So if you have any family members that have a history of fracture due to osteoporosis, your chance of developing one is also higher too.
If I have knee pain (or any bone pain), does that mean that I have osteoporosis?
Again, it’s best to consult your doctor before jumping on the conclusion. As any kind of bone pain might not necessary be a sign of osteoporosis. Thorough examination, history and test are needed to confirm those suspicions of yours.
If I have osteoporosis, and am taking calcium supplements, will I get kidney stones?
Currently there is no clear study to show the direct causal effects of taking calcium supplement and getting a kidney stone. So all in all, if you are osteoporotic and are taking calcium supplement, continue to do so with advice from your doctor and do regular check ups.
If I did a blood test, and my calcium level is normal, does that mean I don’t have osteoporosis?
The calcium level on your blood test, only reflects those that are present in your blood, not that of IN your bone, and it does not represent your bone density. The only way to know if you are osteoporotic is to have a bone scan.