Beware of the silent enemy that eats bones

Fractures caused by osteoporosis can be life-threatening and a major cause of pain and long-term disability.

Imagine your bones getting so weak that a sneeze or a sudden movement breaks them – that is what osteoporosis reduces bone health to. It is a silent enemy that creeps into our body as we age and bursts onto the scene in the form of fractures and unexplained pain. The disease generally has no symptoms and is rarely diagnosed until bones break or fracture. On the occasion of the World Osteoporosis Day marked globally on October 20 annually, doctors have urged the public to think about bone health.

Did you know that optimum bone mass is attained between 25 to 30 years? After that, bone mass reduces and by the age of 40, the rate of loss begins to exceed the rate of regeneration. If the peak bone mass attained is inadequate and if the person’s lifestyle does not support bone health, osteoporosis sets in.

According to global statistics, one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Fractures caused by osteoporosis can be life-threatening and a major cause of pain and long-term disability.

Dr Sadashiva Somayaji, specialist orthopaedic surgeon at the NMC Speciality Hospital, Abu Dhabi, said: “Osteoporosis, which literally means porous bone, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs silently and progressively. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine.

“Our bones are living tissue and constantly changing. For people with osteoporosis, bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone, leading the bones become porous, brittle and prone to fracture,” he added.

Dr Khaled Bitar, specialist orthopaedic surgeon at the Burjeel Hospital Dubai, said:

“There are two main types of osteoporosis, the primary (more common) is related to hormonal changes that happens when we get older (after age of 60) and the other type which is secondary to other diseases that disturb normal bones metabolism (building up new bones and regeneration of old cells). Diagnosis starts with understanding patient history, and clinical examination. Routine X-ray usually tell about the strength of bone texture. Currently, we use a device called Dexa scan for diagnosis.”

Dr Suad Trebinjac, medical director of the Dubai Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre, said: “People need to build strong bones throughout their life to avoid osteoporotic fractures. Many people do not even realise they have osteoporosis until a seemingly small fall leads to a fracture and the doctor informs them about the disease. Once it sets in, it becomes so difficult to manage.”

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