Osteoporosis, or thinning bones, is a serious condition that can result in tremendous pain including fractures. Risk factors for osteoporosis include ageing, being female, being underweight, low sex hormones commonly caused through the menopause, smoking and some medications. Osteoporosis often starts silently and may not be found until a bone fractures. However, occasionally symptoms may occur including:
Developing backache including sudden severe back pain
A gradual loss of height and an accompanying stooped posture
Dental x rays show a loss of bone in the jaw, which can be a sign of osteoporosis
Fractures of the spine, wrist or hip
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. Eating a diet that’s low in calcium, getting little exercise, smoking and the female menopause all contribute to the rate of bone loss. Around midlife during the natural ageing process bones become thinner and how fast or how slow you lose bone depends on a number of factors.
The outer part of the bone is the hard compact mix known as the dense bone. The inner tissue is soft and spongy known as the trabecular bone. Despite most of the inner bone being delicate tissue, it is well protected by the outer dense bone. Most people assume that the bones are not living tissue as it can remain for decades and even centuries after death. However, this is not the case at all. The bone is similar to other tissues in that it needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to stay alive. Our bones start off as cartilage from the time of birth then gradually the cartilage changes to hard bone. This involves the formation of certain minerals such as calcium and phosphate that makes it hard and compact. Peak bone mass is reached around 20 – 40 years of age. The bones constantly undergo change as cells take up some of the bone and other cells lay down new bone. This process of bone deposit and resorption is kept in balance at all times. Unfortunately, it is upset by the onset of osteoporosis and more bone is resorbed than deposited causing the bones to become weak and brittle.
A bone densitometry scan is a special type of x ray to measure the calcium content of the bone. The DEXA scan is the established standard for measuring bone mineral density. This is a simple, quick and non invasive medical test used to measure and diagnose low bone density. The test is usually carried out either on the lower spine and hip areas of the body. The scanner produces two x ray beams, each with a different energy level. One beam is high energy, while the other is low energy. The amount of energy that can pass through depends on the thickness of the bone. The density is directly related to the calcium content of the bone, as thicker bones will have greater calcium content than thinner bones. Ordinary x rays are unable to accurately measure the calcium content in bones and as a result someone with osteoporosis may have perfectly normal x rays.
If you would like to have a bone densitometry scan for osteoporosis then contact Phyathai Sriracha Hospital on International direct line number (English) 087 – 1000990 or contact by email: [email protected] www.phyathai-sriracha.com