31 Mar Elderly Women & Osteoporosis
What Women Need to Know
Being a female puts you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and having broken bones. Here are some facts:
- In most Western countries, while the peak incidence of osteoporosis occurs at about 70-80 years of age, in India it may afflict those 10-20 years younger, at age 50-60.
- 1 out of 8 males and 1 out of 3 females in India suffers from osteoporosis, making India one of the largest affected countries in the world
- 1 in 4 women over 50, suffer from osteoporosis
- 1 in 2 women in their menopause will fracture their bones
- A woman’s risk of osteoporosis-related hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
There are multiple reasons why women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men, including:
- Women tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men.
- Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. This is why the chance of developing osteoporosis increases as women reach menopause.
What’s Your Risk?
Here are two cases to exemplify that Osteoporosis may not cause any apparent symptoms. Patients may not know they have osteoporosis until they break (fracture) a bone.
Case 1 : A 65yr old women develops severe pain in the lower back while trying to lift her grandson from the floor. She was then rushed to the hospital and on investigating was found to have osteoporotic collapse of lumbar vetrebrae.
Case 2 : A 72 yr old female sustained a small twisting jerk while walking over the uneven surface and developed sharp pain in the hip region followed by difficulty in walking and when examined was found to have fracture in the hip.
Common sites for osteoporotic fracture are the spine, hip, wrist and shoulder.
- Hip, vertebral and wrist fractures cause acute pain and loss of function.
- Hip fractures, recovery is slow and rehabilitation is often incomplete, with many patients permanently institutionalised in nursing homes.
- Vertebral fractures can often recur, and the consequent disability increases with the number of fractures.
- In wrist fractures functional recovery is usually good or excellent.
At W Pratiksha Hospital, we opt for the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan to screen for osteopenia (bone loss that precedes osteoporosis). This test is more precise than an X-ray.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the following groups of people should have DEXA scans to screen for osteoporosis:
- All women aged 65+
- All postmenopausal women under 65 who are prone to osteoporosis
- Postmenopausal women with fractures
- Women with a medical conditions associated with osteoporosis
How is Osteoporosis Treated and Prevented?
Osteoporosis treatment involves stopping further bone loss, and strengthening bones that show signs of weakness. Prevention of osteoporosis is the key.
- Exercise : Exercise is important in helping improve muscle strength and balance. Consult your doctor for the type and duration of exercise that is right for you. It is also important to consider other medical problems that may also be present (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure) before starting any exercise program.
- Quit smoking and curtail alcohol consumption
- Take calcium supplements & fortified foods, and Vitamin D supplements.
- Menopausal estrogen hormone therapy.
The Good News
People used to think that osteoporosis was an inevitable part of aging. At W Pratiksha Hospital, our department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Joint Replacement provides state-of-the-art care across all ages. The faculty are internationally trained, recognized as experienced orthopaedicians and know how to prevent, detect and treat the disease. You are never too young or old to take care of your bones. Good lifestyle habits can help you protect your bones and decrease your chance of getting osteoporosis. And, if your healthcare provider hasn’t talked to you about your bone health, it’s time for you to bring it up!