Osteoporosis is a disease that causes progressive weakening of the bones which eventually leads to fractures. Progressive bone deterioration results in gradual loss of bone mass and gives rise to porous and brittle bones. The pathological condition occurs as a result of interruption of the bone remodeling process. The demineralization of bones is responsible for brittle and thin bones as well as the reduction in bone mass. There is increase risk of bone fracture in people over 50 years old. Statistics revealed that Osteoporosis affects approximately 44 million Americans, of which 68% are women.
Osteoclasts and Osteoblasts are the two primary cells responsible for the bone breakdown and rebuilding process. Bone remodeling takes place when Osteoclasts breaks down small amount of bones and allow them to be reabsorbed by the body. This is followed by the action of Osteoblasts that rebuild new bones. A disruption of the bone remodeling process results in an imbalance between formation of new bones and reabsorption of old bones. This disequilibrium can affect the body in several ways. There might be inability of the body to form adequate amount of new bones or reabsorption of too much old bone, or both. Bone loss is more predominant in women than it do in men .Also, more aggressive bone loss occurs in women during the first few years of menopause and continues into old age.
Previously, osteoporosis was considered a natural part of the aging process but it is not. The bones lost durability and strength and are unable to endure stress needed to perform normal activities. This is due to the disruption of the remolding process. Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures each year. The most common areas where fractures occur are in the spine, hip or wrist, but may occur in other bones also. These fractures can be very debilitating and painful. Sometimes they can result in death. Many patients who suffered from a fracture do not return to normal lives. They become bedridden and some develop complications.
In order to effectively manage Osteoporosis, there are two accepted modes of treatments.
- Hormone level testing. This can be achieved by testing the saliva, urine or serum panel. The test will identify if there is a feedback mechanism through which osteoblast inhibiting factors are preventing the bone rebuilding or reabsorption process.
- Identify the effects of Osteoporosis. Treatment options will be dependent on the test result in order to determine the treatment that will be initiated. It will confirm if hormone replacement is contraindicated and alternate prescription drugs might be a better option. The possibilities of serious side effects and drug efficacy in treating osteoporosis have to be taken into consideration as a part of the treatment options.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) are the best treatment options for Osteoporosis but might not be suitable for all clients. They are beneficial and approved in the treatment and prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis. These hormone replacements play a vital role in the female reproductive system as well as maintaining bone density in the prevention of fractures. A decline in estrogen and progesterone levels increases the risk of fractures in women. Estrogen promotes growth and strength of bone formation by stimulating osteoblasts, which are the cells responsible for bone formation. The use of Estrogen in both ERT and HRT slows the process of bone loss and improve bone density. Prescription drugs such as Calcitonins, Bisphosphonates and Parathyroid Hormones Derivatives might not be as effective because of serious side effects.
Effective treatment protocols can be achieved from a combination of drugs with lifestyle and natural approaches. Inclusion of exercise as a part of daily routine along with elimination of and limiting alcohol consumption as well as quitting smoking can be very beneficial. These lifestyle changes coupled with calcium and Vitamin D medications or consumption of foods rich with these vitamins can enhance the treatment of osteoporosis and stimulate bone health.