Bone up on your health
Osteoporosis is often called a ‘silent disease’ because there are no symptoms, and by the time it is diagnosed, the condition could already be at an advanced stage. When this happens, the sufferer – usually a woman over 50 – lives in perpetual fear of bone fractures, which in turn severely limits the quality of life.
The dangers of osteoporosis
Essentially, osteoporosis is caused by the loss of bone mass, which makes them brittle and more prone to fractures or breaking, particularly in the wrist, hips and spine. As women get older, they lose estrogen – an important hormone that protects bones. That’s why, although younger women and men are not exempt, the risk of getting osteoporosis increases when a woman reaches menopause and beyond. Worldwide, 200 million women suffer from osteoporosis, and a woman’s risk of fracturing a hip is the same as her combined risk of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. In Singapore, the incidence of women over 50 who fracture their hips because of osteoporosis is eight times the number of breast cancer cases.
While aging is inevitable, it doesn’t mean that women should sit back and let nature take its course. Prevention is better than cure and one is never too young or too old to take care of one’s bones. Starting young, with a good diet and regular exercise, can well prevent osteoporosis in later years, while those at risk will benefit from regular screening and consultations with a good healthcare provider.
Who’s at risk of Osteoporosis?
How do you know if you are at risk in the first place?
In the human body, peak bone mass is achieved by the age of 30, after which it begins to decline. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also face a brief decline in bone mass, especially if they do not get adequate calcium during this period. While age and menopause are given risks, a woman with a family history of osteoporosis; who is thin with small bone structure; or has been diagnosed with osteopenia – where the bone is less dense than normal but not to the degree of osteoporosis – has a higher chance of developing the condition.
Medication such as corticosteroids, and health conditions that interfere with calcium absorption such as diabetes, liver and kidney disease can also cause bone loss in pre-menopausal women.
What you can do to delay Osteoporosis?
Lifestyle habits can also play a role, such as smoking, excessive drinking and a couch potato existence, but unlike the other risk factors, these are possible to overcome. According to a study presented at ENDO 2018, the annual congress of the American Society of Endocrinology, following a Mediterranean diet – with its focus on fruits, vegetables, fish and healthy fats – can help protect postmenopausal women from osteoporosis. The study tracked 103 women who were on this diet, and researchers found that they had higher bone mineral density at the spine and greater muscle mass.
Early screening is the first step towards a programme of prevention or treatment. The most important is a Bone Density Test, which uses a DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) machine to measure the amount of bone one has in the hip, spine and other bones. This is a quick and painless method that’s almost like taking a normal x-ray but with less radiation involved.
If undiagnosed or untreated, osteoporosis puts both men and women at risk of fractures, which can happen even with little impact on the bone. This condition leads to long-term health issues and even increases mortality risk. But there are ways to prevent and deal with it. Maintaining a healthy BMI, getting enough vitamin D and calcium, plus weight-bearing exercise can help reduce the risk fracture, but many will still need medical management with a specialist in bone health.
That’s why even with the correct diet, lifestyle and exercise, regular screening is still of fundamental importance. A physician trained to monitor your osteoporosis would be able to assess your condition and help to prevent one from developing long term bone problems. Osteoporosis can be a serious disease if left untreated.
Where to get Osteoporosis Treatment in Singapore?
A few orthopaedic surgeons in Singapore offer comprehensive Osteoporosis Screening plan that includes a bone mineral density test, consultation, screening and supplements. All this at a very affordable price. They may also suggest Injections to delay the development of Osteoporosis. To find out more, consult an orthopaedic surgeon with experience in treating osteoporosis for men and women.
Check out our list of top recommended orthopaedic surgeons in Singapore