Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which a person’s bone strength decreases due to a loss in density, thereby making it brittle and more susceptible to fractures. It’s the most common bone disease known.
Wrist, spine, hip and vertebrae bones are the ones that are more prone to this condition than the other bones in the body. Wrist fractures are more frequent in and around the age of 50, reaching their peak by 60. Hip fractures, on the other hand, show an ever-increasing risk for every five years past 70.
Who? Men or Women?
Though post-menopausal women are at an increased risk for the disease, even men can suffer from it. Studies have shown that every year around 8 million women and 2 million men in the U.S. alone suffer from osteoporosis. According to statistical data around 18 million people in the U.S. have bone densities that expose them to increased risk for the disease.
Eyeing the Culprit
Bone is that part of the human system that gives strength, support and shape to the body. Looking at its constitutional makeup, bone can be observed as a honeycomb-shaped structure made up of collagen (95 percent), minerals (calcium, phosphate, magnesium and sodium), proteins and blood vessels. The intimate relationship of this complex group is so strong that it makes the bone structure very dense. Due to certain hormonal, environmental, genetic or nutritional factors there’s a change in the spatial arrangement, and the spaces in this honeycombed, dense structure increase. This in turn makes the bone more fragile, and the person suffers from osteoporosis.
Know How the Body’s Pillars Grow
In the human body there’s a continuous wear and tear process, and the body is well adapted to do the repair work. In bones this job is done by two cells: the osteoblasts and the osteoclasts. The osteoclast cells break down the fragile, older bone tissue, and the osteoblast cells make the new. This process is termed remodeling.
Many genes, hormones, proteins and the body’s internal growth factors control the process of remodeling. The two main functions of bone remodeling are:
- To repair the micro-damage in the bone in order to maintain its strength and viability
- To maintain the normal serum and bone calcium levels
The “Cascade Effect”
Osteoporosis has a unique feature that once a person suffers a break because of the disease, the chances of it happening again increases about four times more for the second fracture and around 11 times more for the third fracture. This effect is more pronounced in spinal fractures.