Osteoporosis

In osteoporosis, a loss of bone density makes bones weaker and more likely to break, and also causes some patients to lose height.

Overview

In osteoporosis, a loss of bone density makes bones weaker and more likely to break, and also causes some patients to lose height. It is caused by an imbalance between bone resorption and bone formation – often owing to a hormone deficiency. Regular exercise and a diet high in calcium can counter the effects of this disease.

Symptoms

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Basic cause: an imbalance between bone resorption and bone formation
  • Hormone deficiency (in particular women after menopause)
  • Older people (bone density usually declines with age)
  • Medication (in particular long-term use of cortisone)
  • Little to no exercise (confinement to bed, paralysis, etc.)
  • Eating disorders
  • Risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • X-ray and blood test
  • Bone density measurement (osteodensitometry, DXA scan)
Possible therapies
  • Long-term treatment over many years is required
  • Movement therapy (important to regain the ability to walk)
  • Nutritional counselling
  • Fall prevention
  • Pain treatment
  • Medication
    • Prevent further loss of bone density
    • Support bone formation
  • Surgery to treat fractures
    • Hip replacement
    • Stabilisation of vertebrae

What can I do myself?

Prevent osteoporosis (primary preventive measures)
  • Build strong bones while still young
  • Lots of physical movement, preferably in the fresh air, exercise
  • Supporting diet
    • Rich in calcium: hard cheese, various mineral water beverages
    • Lots of vegetables and fruit, but little meat (too much protein speeds up bone loss)
    • Very little sausage, chocolate, cola and meat (high in phosphate, hinders absorption of calcium in the intestinal tract)
  • Recommended daily nutritional supplement
    • Before menopause, 1 g calcium
    • After menopause, 1.5 g calcium
    • More calcium is needed for pregnant and breastfeeding women and during puberty
  • Vitamin D3 supplements (important for absorption of calcium by the bones)
    • Recommended for everybody in winter
    • Persons at risk (mostly people with too little sun exposure and the over 60s): take vitamin D supplements throughout the year
  • Don't drink too much alcohol, don't smoke.

Get a personal Preventive Care Recommendation now.

Osteoporosis has been diagnosed (secondary measures)
  • All of the above primary preventive measures
  • Physical exercise remains important; expert advice is needed (inappropriate exercise can lead to fractures)
  • Reduce the risk of falling:
    • Wear suitable shoes
    • Use walking aids (walking stick, Zimmer frame, etc.)
    • Remove sources of danger in your home (rugs that can slip, cables lying around, etc.)
    • Exercises to improve balance
  • For bone pain: heat treatment (e.g. hay flower bath) or moist warm compresses)

When to see a doctor?

  • Chronic back pain
  • Rounded back, loss of height
  • Osteoporosis screening is recommended for:
    • All women from the age of 65
    • Younger women with risk factors (alcohol abuse, heavy nicotine consumption, early menopause)

Further information

Rheumaliga Schweiz (Swiss League against Rheumatism)
www.rheumaliga.ch

OSTEOSWISS
www.osteoswiss.ch

Synonyms

osteoporosis, bone loss

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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