Symptoms of osteoporosis – Washington Hispanic


Although your bones are usually quite strong, they consist of living tissue that continually breaks down and rebuilds itself.

As you age, old bone may break down faster than new bone is formed. This is because your bones have holes and become more brittle. This is called osteoporosis.

Treating osteoporosis early is the best way to avoid some of the more serious consequences, such as loss of height or broken bones. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors can help you take the right actions to keep your bones strong.

Can you detect osteoporosis in the early stages?

Detectable early signs of bone loss are rare. People often don’t know they have broken bones until they break their hip, spine, or wrist. However, some signs and symptoms may indicate bone loss.

receding gums

Your gums may recede if your jaw is losing bone. Ask your dentist to examine the bone loss in your jaw.

Weakened pressure force

In a study of postmenopausal women and overall bone mineral density, researchers determined that lower pressing force was associated with lower bone mineral density. Also, less pressure force can increase your risk of falls.

Weakened and brittle nails

Nail strength can be a sign of bone health. But you should also consider external factors like swimming, gardening, and other exercises that can affect your nails.

Other than changes in bone density, osteoporosis usually doesn’t cause many early symptoms. Your best bet for detecting it early is to see your doctor, especially if you have a family history of osteoporosis.

Signs or symptoms of late-stage osteoporosis

When the bone deteriorates significantly more, you may begin to experience more obvious symptoms such as:


Compression fractures in the spine that can cause weight loss. This is one of the most noticeable symptoms of osteoporosis.

Fracture from a fall

A fracture is one of the most common signs of brittle bones. Fractures can occur from a fall or from a minor movement such as stepping off the sidewalk. Some osteoporotic fractures can even be triggered by a forceful sneeze or cough.

back or neck pain

Osteoporosis can cause compression fractures of the spine. These fractures can be very painful because the collapsed vertebra can pinch nerves radiating from the spine. Pain symptoms can range from minor tenderness to debilitating pain.

Stooped posture or compression fracture

Compression of the vertebra can also cause a slight stooping of the upper back. A hunched back is known as kyphosis.

Kyphosis can cause back and neck pain and even affect your breathing due to the extra pressure on your airways and limited expansion of your lungs.

When you should see the doctor

The symptoms of osteoporosis can cause pain and discomfort. See your doctor right away if you experience severe pain, particularly in your back, neck, hips, or wrists. You may have a fractured bone that needs evaluation and treatment.

What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

Both men and women can get osteoporosis, but the condition is more common in women because it is often caused by hormonal changes that occur with age. When your body destroys your bone tissue faster than it can form more, it causes osteoporosis.

Risk factors include:

  • advanced age
  • having menopause before the age of 45
  • being of Caucasian or Asian descent
  • that the ovaries were removed before the age of 45
  • have low testosterone in men
  • have low estrogen in women
  • taking certain medications that lower hormone levels
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • having a family history of osteoporosis
  • drink alcohol often
  • not getting enough regular physical activity, particularly strength training exercise

Having certain medical conditions can also increase your risk of osteoporosis. They include:

  • renal insufficiency
  • poor absorption
  • multiple sclerosis
  • leukemia
  • diabetes
  • hyperthyroidism
  • hyperparathyroidism
  • rheumatoid arthritis

Taking immunosuppressive medications and steroids, such as prednisone, can also increase your risk of osteoporosis. Seizure medications and thyroid replacement therapy (if the dose is too high) can also increase this risk.

What happens during a diagnosis?

Your doctor can detect osteoporosis by measuring your bone density. A machine called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA machine, can scan your hips and spine to determine how dense your bones are compared to other people of your gender and age.

DXA detection is the main diagnostic method and takes 10-15 minutes.

Other imaging tests doctors use to diagnose or confirm a diagnosis include:

  • ultrasound, usually of a person’s heel
  • lower spine quantitative computed tomography
  • lateral x-rays, which are conventional x-rays

A doctor can interpret the results to tell you if your bone density is normal or below normal. Sometimes your doctor will give you a diagnosis of osteopenia, or low bone mass. This is not osteoporosis yet. This means that your bones are not as dense as they should be.

What are the complications of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can increase the risk of bone fractures, particularly of the wrist, spine, or hip. The effects of spinal fractures can make a person look shorter because fractures can shorten the spine. In some cases, fractures may require surgery.

Osteoporosis can also cause bone pain that can affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Fractures can increase your risk of disability or death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

How to treat osteoporosis?

Treatment for osteoporosis includes medications to help build bone mass. Medications often have hormonal influences, stimulating or acting like estrogen in the body to stimulate bone growth. Examples of medications used to treat osteoporosis include:

  • bisphosphonates
  • calcitonin
  • estrogen
  • parathyroid hormone (PTH), such as teriparatide
  • parathyroid hormone-related protein
  • raloxifene (Evista)

Romosozumab (Evenity) is a newer drug that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2019 to treat women who have gone through menopause and are at high risk to suffer fractures. It has a “black box” warning as Evenity can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, so it’s not recommended for people with a history of either.

Kyphoplasty is a surgical treatment for fractures. Kyphoplasty involves using small incisions to insert a small balloon into the collapsed vertebra to restore height and function to the spine.

Can you prevent osteoporosis?

It is important to act to prevent bone loss and maintain bone density.

Examples of actions you can take to rebuild bones include:


Exercise regularly by lifting weights to help build bone mass. Examples include weightlifting, dancing, jogging, and racket sports such as tennis.

Low-impact exercises like walking or using an elliptical machine are important to an overall healthy exercise program, but they don’t provide enough resistance to build stronger bones.

eat enough calcium

On a daily basis, an adult needs about 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day until they reach age 65. After that, calcium needs to increase frequently to between 1,200 and 1,500 mg. Foods that are rich in calcium include:

  • low-fat dairy products
  • canned sardines and salmon (with bone)
  • broccoli
  • beans and legumes
  • daughters of cabbage
  • kale
  • Chinese cabbage (Chinese cabbage)
  • fortified foods, such as bread, cereal, and almond milk

Get enough vitamin D

Get vitamin D daily. Vitamin D is instrumental in helping the body absorb calcium. Most people need 400 international units of vitamin D every day.

About 15 minutes of sun exposure every day can stimulate vitamin D production. Foods like fortified milk, egg yolks, and salmon also have vitamin D.

Avoid unhealthy substances

Smoking or drinking alcohol in excessive amounts increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Avoid falls

You can prevent falls indoors by:

  • wear non-slip socks and shoes
  • keep electrical wires against walls
  • keep rooms well lit
  • keep rugs attached to the floor
  • keep a flashlight near your bed
  • place grab bars in the bathroom

Ways to prevent falls outdoors include:

  • use support such as a cane or walker
  • friction rubber soled shoes
  • walking on the grass when the sidewalk is wet
  • apply salt or kitty litter to icy pavement

You can also make sure you wear proper prescription lenses to prevent falls due to poor vision.

Certain exercises can help with balance and grip strength while walking at home or outside. Consult a physical therapist for help creating a balance training program.

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