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Osteoporosis, what is it? Signs, symptoms and treatment, tests

In the modern world, the achievement of old age is considered a merit of the development of medical science. Indeed, some two or three hundred years ago, the average life expectancy was limited to thirty - forty years, and the elderly were rare.

The cause was constant epidemics of infectious diseases. After the appearance of antibiotics, humanity began to live longer, and in our time, the main causes of death are cardiovascular diseases.

But old age, in addition to atherosclerosis and a high risk of myocardial damage and the likelihood of stroke, carries the appearance of such an unpleasant condition as osteoporosis. We will understand more in this issue.


Osteoporosis - what is it?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone density is reduced, with the appearance of its fragility and tendency to pathological fractures. In other words, osteoporosis is an increased “porosity” of the skeleton.


The causes of osteoporosis are numerous. In short, the main reason is the predominance of catabolism (decay processes) in bone tissue over anabolism (growth processes and nutrient absorption). Most often, the following conditions lead to osteoporosis:

  • Climax in women . Lack of estrogen causes osteoporosis, so the risk of bone damage in women is three times higher than in men of the same age;
  • Old age. You should not look for some kind of disease, just at senile age the whole organism, including bones, is shaken;
  • Long-term use of hormonal drugs (glucocorticosteroids). This may be, for example, in the treatment of severe forms of bronchial asthma ;
  • Alimentary osteoporosis: occurs when there is a shortage of calcium and vitamin D in the diet;
  • A hereditary factor is the presence of osteoporosis in close relatives and parents;
  • Hypodynamia (sedentary lifestyle). With it, the blood supply to the deep muscles and bone tissue deteriorates, and this leads to inadequate delivery of calcium to the bone;
  • Smoking and alcohol abuse;
  • Chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (chronic pancreatitis, syndrome of insufficient absorption in the intestine - malabsorption);
  • In women, osteoporosis can be caused by ovarian disease, accompanied by a decrease in endocrine function;

In addition to these causes, there are other conditions that may contribute to an increase in the frequency of the disease in the population. So, belonging to the European or Mongoloid race increases the risk of osteoporosis. It is important that African Americans are almost not prone to this disease.

Classification of osteoporosis - types and forms

First of all, bone damage can be common (common) and local, for example, osteoporosis of the hip joint. Common osteoporosis is also called systemic.

Also, the disease can be primary (in the event that there is no cause) and secondary (for example, with long-term treatment with hormonal drugs, or with ovarian apoplexy).

In addition, the structure of the lesion of bone tissue can vary by cortical (superficial bone tissue), trabecular (a violation of the structure of spongy substance) and mixed.

Osteoporosis in women - features

Osteoporosis in women

As mentioned above, women are three times more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than men, especially after the cessation of menstruation, in postmenopausal age.

This is due to the fact that estrogens, which are produced by the ovaries, prevent the "leaching" of calcium from bone tissue. Looking ahead, we can say that in women one of the most effective ways to treat this condition is hormone replacement therapy. The symptoms of osteoporosis in women are therefore more “numerous” than in men.

Symptoms of osteoporosis

Symptoms of osteoporosis

The clinical symptoms of osteoporosis are numerous, but not all of them are local, that is, they are directly related to the skeleton. So, there are common manifestations of bone tissue sparseness, for example, such as:

  • Pathological fatigue associated with systemic calcium deficiency;
  • The appearance of increased convulsive readiness, especially in the calf muscles;
  • Osteoporosis of the spine - symptoms of it often include back pain, both when moving and at rest;
  • Nail plates become fragile and often exfoliate;
  • Perhaps the appearance of diffuse myalgia, or muscle pain;
  • Frequent attacks of tachycardia, or palpitations;
  • The appearance of protrusions and hernias in different parts of the spine, most often they occur in the lumbar region, where there is an increased load;
  • The occurrence of scoliotic spinal deformity, reduced growth.

Finally, the most frequent symptom of osteoporosis is also its complication at the same time - we are talking about pathological fractures.

In this disease, a fracture may occur under the influence of a very weak load, for example, when trying to raise a saucepan of water, a fracture of the radial bone occurs in the wrist area. To avoid this, it is necessary to diagnose osteoporosis long before it "causes misfortune."

Diagnosis of osteoporosis

For some reason, some people believe that bone radiography can give an affirmative answer for any degree of osteoporosis. In fact, this is not the case: on the “X-ray” one can only see a fairly “neglected” process in which bone loss exceeds 25–30%.

One of the best ways to diagnose a disease is densitometry. This is an absolutely painless and safe way to directly measure bone density, as well as the relative ratio of the mineral and organic components in the bones.

But, despite the conduct of densitometry, the diagnosis of osteoporosis provides for the performance of some laboratory tests.

What tests do I have for osteoporosis?

Of great importance are research methods that reflect the state of balance in the body of phosphorus and calcium, since these two elements are found in bone tissue in certain relationships:

  • The amount of calcium in the blood plasma;
  • The concentration of inorganic phosphorus is also in the blood plasma;
  • The level of parathyroid hormone - it is produced by small paired parathyroid glands and is responsible for regulating the level of calcium and its utilization from the blood. This substance is one of the most important in the regulation of calcium;
  • Osteocalcin protein. It is examined when changes in blood calcium levels are found. This substance rises in the blood in osteoporosis, but also in some endocrine diseases;
  • Vitamin D level in blood plasma;
  • The study of the concentration of the hormone calcitonin;
  • In extreme and unclear cases, a biopsy study is possible, most often the osseous tissue of the iliac bone is taken in small quantities.

Osteoporosis treatment

Osteoporosis treatment

Preparations for the treatment of osteoporosis, photo

The modern treatment of osteoporosis is a complex event and is inseparable from proper nutrition, the use of vitamin D, and preparations containing phosphate and calcium supplements. The most well-known are the following methods of treatment:

  1. The use of bisphosphonates, for example, alindronate. This drug prevents the destruction of bone tissue and almost halves the risk of pathological fractures;
  2. The use of the drug "Miakaltsik", which is a natural analogue of calcitonin, improves phosphoric - calcium metabolism;
  3. An effective method of treating osteoporosis in women is hormone replacement therapy, which is performed after the onset of menopause. Estrogen therapy should be carried out only after a thorough examination by a gynecologist, mammologist and taking into account the severity of side effects, the most frequent of which is venous thrombosis.

In addition to the above methods of treatment, patients with osteoporosis are shown a special unloading exercise therapy, as well as a moderate massage.

The consequences, complications of osteoporosis

The most famous and at the same time severe consequence of osteoporosis are fractures. You can even put an equal sign between these concepts: osteoporosis = fracture. And one of the most dangerous is a hip fracture.

The fact is that immobility and bedriddenness with this type of fracture can cause hypostatic pneumonia, intestinal paresis, the formation of bedsores, and as a result, an elderly person can die from infection and autointoxication very shortly after the fracture.

Therefore, with the slightest suspicion of osteoporosis, the appearance of pain or other symptoms, it is better to perform densitometry.

To which doctor to treat for osteoporosis?

To which doctor to treat for osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that lies at the junction of many medical disciplines. The search for its causes most often begins in the office of a gynecologist, endocrinologist or therapist.

Sometimes, in the case when the manifestation of the disease manifests itself once a pathological fracture, it may be a traumatologist - orthopedist.

Disease prevention

Prevention of osteoporosis is the quintessence of what can simply be called “a healthy lifestyle. Of course, it is much easier to prevent bone loss than to treat its advanced forms, or to deal with multiple fractures.

The most important areas of prevention is a diet with foods containing calcium and vitamin D, exposure to the sun, and physical activity.

It is important to know that not all physical exercises are equally beneficial: there should be pressure on the bone, so this kind of load, like swimming, will not be enough.

But cycling, doing aerobics and dancing are all great tools for preventing such an unpleasant disease as osteoporosis.


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