Diseases of the bone: Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a widespread disease.
Osteoporosis is a truly widespread disease and is among the most common diseases among the elderly. Broken bones (fractures) in the vertebrae, femoral neck and wrists are particularly feared.
Here are a few figures to illustrate: The probability of a woman suffering one or more vertebral fractures during her lifetime is 30 %, while the probability of them suffering a fractured femoral neck is 15 %. There are also genetic differences: Caucasian women have a higher risk of fracture than black women.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is characterised by a progressive loss of bone mass and none structure, with an increased risk of fracture. The disease results from an imbalance between bone formation and bone resorption, for which there are various causes.
What causes osteoporosis?
Bone formation and absorption is normally balanced out and is necessary for the constant renewal of bony tissue. This balance can be disrupted due to a variety of reasons and cause osteoporosis.
Possible causes for osteoporosis:
We usually lose bone mass as we get older. This can result in so-called "senile osteoporosis".
- Sex hormone deficiency (hypogonadism):
Insufficient ovary function in females and testicle function in males can result in a deficiency in sex hormones: oestrogen in females and testosterone in males. Younger people can also have a deficiency in sex hormones as a result of hormonal disorders when this occurs with increasing age and at a slow pace. Sex hormones play a special role in the metabolism of bone, meaning that a significant amount of bone mass can be lost, even in males.
- Especially oestrogen deficiency during menopause:
Oestrogen is a hormone that plays an important role in the regulation of bone metabolism. The resorption of bone accelerates at the start of menopause, particularly in the trabecular (spongy) bone. The accelerated loss of bone mass during menopause lasts for approximately 10 years.
- Parathyroid gland overactivity:
The parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone that controls the concentration of calcium in the body. An increase in the release of this hormone accelerates the washing out of calcium from the bones and results in a reduction in bone mass.
- Chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g., asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, etc.)
Bone mass is lost in these diseases due to the release of bone mass reducing messengers (mediators).
Long-term treatment with a variety of drugs can lead to a significant loss of bone mass. The most common of these is the loss of bone mass due to glucocorticoids ("cortisone"). Certain epilepsy drugs can also cause a particular form of osteoporosis that softens the bones.
- Nutrient deficiency:
Certain diseases cause so-called malabsorption (insufficient absorption of nutrients), including the different types of inflammatory bowel disease and food intolerance (e.g., lactose deficiency, sprue = gluten-induced enteropathy).
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
- Acute fractures of the vertebral body: Sudden onset of back pain with muscle tension in the surrounding area. However, a vertebral body fracture often has no clinical symptoms.
- Neck of femur fracture: Usually occurs after a fall, acute pain in the hip region, limited range of movement in the leg, the leg appears to be shorter when the patient is lying.
- Fracture of the wrist (distal radius fracture): Usually occurs when the patient falls down and breaks the fall with the hand.
Diagnostics & Therapy
There are different types of diagnostics, therapy possibilities available for the treatment of osteoporosis and bone diseases.
Our specialised clinics and hospitals for diagnostics, treatment & therapy of osteoporosis and bone diseases at a glance.