Osteoporosis Symptoms And Signs Which Need Attention
Most people do not realize they have osteoporosis until a fracture happens, as there are usually no initial symptoms. This is why this condition is called a “silent disease” or “silent thief”. However, there are some signs to look out for, which indicate low bone density. This content would help know about some early warning signs of osteoporosis and late-stage osteoporosis symptoms.
Early Warning Signs Of Osteoporosis To Look Out For:
- Receding gums: Research suggests a link between bone loss in the jaw and osteoporosis. When the jaw loses bone, gums can drawback, and tooth loss can occur. Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to have tooth loss than women who do not have this disease.
- Brittle fingernails: Nail strength is an indicator of bone health. Nails that chip or break easily after a hand wash or any manual work can be signs of low bone mineral density. But, submersion of the nail in water for prolonged periods and daily use of nail polish remover or acrylic nails can also affect nails.
- Decreased grip strength: You may have low bone density if you find it hard to open a tin can or pull a heavy door. Some studies have shown that decreased grip strength is linked with low bone mineral density. And also, the decreased grip can increase the risk of falls.
- Difficulty getting out of a chair without using the arms to push: It may occur as a result of reduced mass in the thighs. Low muscle mass is a strong predictor of weakening bones. The risk of fractures from falling is also high.
- Muscle cramps, bone pain, and tiredness: These symptoms could occur due to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium, which ultimately helps build strong bones. Though cramps and tiredness are caused by a number of factors, bone and joint pain, especially in the back and cramps that occur at night can be due to low vitamin D levels.
What Are Osteoporosis Symptoms And Signs?
Broken bones from minor falls: Easy fractures are often the first symptom of osteoporosis. Low bone density can make the bones become brittle and weak. A minor fall from a standing height that normally would not cause a break in a healthy bone can cause breaks in the bones.
Sometimes, normal stresses such as lifting or bending or even a strong sneeze or coughing can trigger osteoporosis fractures. The fractures most commonly occur in the wrist, hip, or spine.
Changes in posture (stooping forward), height loss & back pain: In osteoporosis, spinal fractures are common, and the upper (thoracic) spine bones are more likely to break. Your spine is composed of small bones called vertebrae. When those bones break, they are known as vertebral or compression fractures.
The broken bones can cause a sharp back pain that doesn’t go away. Or, there could be no pain at all. If there is no pain, many people are unaware of having broken bones in the spine. When more breaks occur, people may start to have a height loss and curved spine.
The curve in the spine causes stooped or hunched posture and is called kyphosis. Due to this, clothes may begin to fit poorly. Some people realize the problem after noticing a height loss of more than an inch in one year’s time.
When the spine is more curved caused by several breaks (severe), kyphosis is referred as dowager’s hump. It may cause constant pain and decrease the space for internal organs. People may find it hard to eat or breathe. Change in posture can lead to difficulty with digestion and increase the risk of a fall. If you experience these osteoporosis symptoms, be sure to visit a health care professional as soon as possible.
When Should I Be More Concerned About Osteoporosis Signs And How Osteoporosis Is Screened?
If the health care professional suspects that you might have osteoporosis, he/ she will recommend a bone density test. Bone mineral density tests also called DEXA scans (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) are used to measure your bone strength. It helps determine if you have osteoporosis or you are at its risk. It is a painless procedure that takes ten to twenty minutes based on the part of the body being scanned. The results are reported in T-score and Z-score.
In T-score, your bone density is compared with what is usually expected in a healthy young adult of your sex.
- T-score of -1 and above indicates the bone density is normal
- T-score between -1 and -2.5 indicates a low bone mass and may lead to osteoporosis
- T-score of -2.5 and below indicates the presence of osteoporosis
In Z-score, the bone density comparisons are made to someone of your age, race, sex, height, and weight. A Z-score below -2.0 indicates that you have a lower bone mass than someone your age. If you are diagnosed with this disorder, your physician may recommend lifestyle modifications, osteoporosis medications and supplements.
There are some risk factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Stay aware of the risk factors and if you think you are at risk or experience any osteoporosis symptoms, ask your doctor if you should get tested.
The risk factors include:
- You are a postmenopausal woman aged 50 or older
- Heavy drinking and smoking
- A family history of osteoporosis, particularly a hip fracture in a parent
- Having a low body mass index (BMI)
- Lack of physical activity
- Taking steroid medications in higher doses for more than three months
- Having medical conditions that trigger osteoporosis such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple myeloma, etc.
- Have undergone a weight loss surgery or organ transplant
- Had early menopause (before the age of 45)
Why Is Early Bone Health Care Important?
Osteoporosis can lead to life-changing fractures and don’t often show any symptoms in the early stages. But the good part is it is preventable if you begin keeping your bones healthy. Lifestyle and diet are two important risk factors you can control to prevent osteoporosis. Don’t smoke and be active. Eat a diet containing adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D and stay happy.