Osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone strength and is one of the most common problems of aging. If you have osteoporosis it means that you have lost some bone material. Your bones become less dense and this makes them more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis mainly affects older people but it can affect someone of any age.
It is called the ‘silent disease’ because bone loss develops gradually without obvious symptoms. Although its symptoms are somewhat invisible, there are some warning signs of osteoporosis that you should see a doctor if you are experiencing any of them.
1. Having a Fracture After a Minor Incident: If you suffer a fracture after a simple fall such as a fall from the height of a standard chair or less to the ground, this may be a sign that you have osteoporosis. That is because a simple fall to the ground doesn’t usually cause a fracture in someone without osteoporosis. So you should be tested after having such fracture to know whether you have osteoporosis and start the treatment. A bone fracture after a minor injury like this is known as a fragility fracture. The most common fragility fractures occur in the hip, wrist and the bones that make up the spine (vertebrae).
2. Loss of Height: Losing height is very common as we age and there are many precursors to it, including poor posture and vertebral fractures. Poor posture may not mean you have bone loss, but it can indicate a weakening of the muscles around your spine, and since bone and muscle work in one unit and typically gain and lose strength in synchrony, it’s likely that a loss in muscle is connected to an eventual loss in bone. If you’ve lost more than 3 cm in height (just over 1 inch), it’s a sign that something may be wrong.
3. Sudden Back Pain: In people with osteoporosis, a vertebral fracture can occur spontaneously or as a result of a very action such as bending over to pick something from the floor. Any adult who experiences sudden or very intense back pain without a reason should see a doctor because it is a potential warning sign of vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis. The pain may be so severe that the patient cannot move, or it may be less severe. If you’ve had unexplained back pain you should ask your doctor for a thorough examination that includes a bone health assessment, because some doctors just give painkillers without exploring osteoporosis as a possible underlying cause.