Bone health and related conditions can affect you at any stage of life. But they later became more prominent, especially among women. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become progressively weaker. According to a survey by the Indian Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ISBMR), since 2015, it has been estimated that 20% of 230 million Indian women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. To raise awareness of these little-known health issues, we are running an ongoing campaign called “Healthy Living” where we try to focus on the health aspects of each individual. Today our focus will be on women’s osteoporosis once they reach menopause.
Osteoporosis in women: What should you know?
We have consulted Dr. Nileen Shah, Consultant Orthopedics, PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Center, Khar to help women understand the state of osteoporosis after menopause. Among women, she explained, osteoporosis is more common in two types, post-menopausal osteoporosis and aging. Estrogen and progesterone, the female sex hormones, have a positive effect on the skeletal bone by promoting osteoblast activity. These are the cells that make new bone and regulate bone metabolism. During menopause, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body decrease.
Changes in these hormones and decreased circulation of the hormone estrogen in the body negatively affect the strength of the bones causing adverse effects. Many studies have shown that osteoporosis is prevalent in 8 to 62% of Indian women of different ages. In general, maximum bone mass (strength) is achieved at age 25, after which bone density and strength gradually decrease.
How does osteoporosis develop after menopause?
Osteoporosis develops as the effects of estrogen decrease. The main cause of osteoporosis is the same for all women. But hormonal changes during menopause affect women in such a way that it increases their risk of osteoporosis.
Also, post-menopausal women who are taking hormone replacement therapy have a lower incidence of osteoporosis than others. Whether or not to take hormone replacement therapy is a decision that should be made not only on the basis of the manifestations of osteoporosis, but also on other factors. Other factors may include age, family and personal medical history. This is usually a joint decision that should be made in consultation with a physician and gynecologist.
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Symptoms of osteoporosis after menopause
Overall, osteoporosis is considered a silent disease because no major symptoms are observed. This is until the bone strength is severely reduced and causes a fracture. Postmenopausal women may experience the following symptoms:
- Discomfort in walking
- Pain in the lower part of the body
- Joint pain
- Difficulty getting up from a low bench
Vitamin D deficiency in this condition is called osteomalacia. People can feel pain and soreness in the body. However, osteoporosis cannot be detected unless special tests are performed.
Differences between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in women
- Osteoarthritis affects the joints where two bones connect, while osteoporosis affects bone density.
- Osteoporosis affects bone formation, while osteoarthritis affects the outer part of the bone where a joint is formed.
- Osteoarthritis is caused by aging, joint injury and obesity while osteoporosis can be caused by a variety of factors such as hormonal changes, oral drug reactions and other treatments used in conditions such as epilepsy.
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Precautions for women after menopause
After the age of 55-60, all women are advised to take precautionary tests such as bone chemistry, calcium, vitamins and DEXA bone scan estimates to establish or rule out osteoporosis.
Any woman with osteoporosis should avoid any activity or physical risk where a fracture may occur. If a person has difficulty maintaining balance, or if they are already suffering from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, walking help is recommended.
Most cases of fractures occur due to physical collapse during daily activities, especially in the elderly. So, some basic measures like installing grab bars and hand rails, wearing loose clothes, wearing shoes, eliminating the danger of tripping.
Since osteoporosis means osteoporosis, the most basic and effective solution is to incorporate mindful exercise into your routine life, such as walking, low-impact aerobics, stair climbing, and weight-bearing routines.
Include calcium and vitamin D supplements. You may want to consider alternatives such as hormone replacement therapy, or selective estrogen receptor modulators and anti-resorptive agents, with alendronate being a fairly popular oral tablet.
It goes without saying that prevention is better than cure. It also holds true value for women with osteoporosis. Women over the age of 50 in particular should ensure optimal bone health by consuming calcium-rich foods, maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D, and exercising regularly.
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