Early symptoms of osteoporosis

Osteoporisis symptoms

Generally speaking, there are no early symptoms of osteoporosis, which is why this condition is known as a ‘silent killer.’ In fact, most people will learn they have osteoporosis after the bones have weakened so that an unexpected strain, bump, or fall results in a fractured hip or collapsed vertebra. However, there may be signs that bones have already started to weaken, including:

·         Back pain caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra.

·         Gradual loss of height.

·         Stooped posture.

·         Bone fracture occurring more easily than would be expected.

Though the removal of old bone and the formation of new bone is a natural process that waxes and wanes in all individuals, certain people are more at risk for osteoporosis-related bone loss than others, especially women in the first few years of menopause. However, men can also be affected by this condition. Either way, there are certain risk factors that are inevitable, while others can be addressed with lifestyle changes.

Unchangeable risk factors

Changeable risk factors

·         Age. Bones become thinner and weaker with age.

·         Gender (female).

·         Body size. Small, thin-boned women are at increased risk.

·         Race. White and Asian women are at high risk, while African-American and Hispanic women are at low yet significant risk.

·         Family history.

·         Sex hormones. Low levels of estrogens in women and of testosterone in men can cause osteoporosis.

·         Intake of calcium and vitamin D.

·         Medications (gluococorticoids, some anticonvulsants).

·         A sedentary lifestyle.

·         Alcohol and tobacco use.


Changing the habits and behaviors that can contribute to the onset of disease is known as prevention. In the case of osteoporosis, prevention means abstaining from certain things; for instance stopping or not starting smoking and drinking in moderation or not at all. At the same time, it means doing things you may not be accustomed to, such as exercising regularly – especially walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, weight training, tennis, and dancing – or increasing your intake of certain foods containing calcium (low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream; dark green, leafy vegetables, like broccoli, collard greens, bok choy, and spinach; sardines and salmon with bones; tofu; almonds; and foods fortified with calcium like orange juice, cereals, and bread) and vitamin D (egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver).

Recommended daily calcium intake

Life stage


0-6 months


6-12 months


1-3 years


4-8 years


9-13 years


14-18 years


19-30 years


31-50 years


51-70 years (males/females)


70 years


14-18 years (pregnant or lactating)


19-50 years (pregnant or lactating)



Even after an individual is diagnosed with osteoporosis, prevention still plays a major, albeit different, role. People with this condition must be quite literally on their toes in order to prevent falls and thus reduce the risk of a hip, wrist, or spine fracture.

Fall prevention



·         Keep rooms clutter-free.

·         Keep floors smooth but not slippery.

·         Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes.

·         Do not walk in socks, stockings, or slippers.

·         Make sure carpets and rugs are skid-proof or tacked to the floor.

·         Make sure stairwells are well lit and that stairs have handrails on either side.

·         Install grab bars on bathroom walls.

·         Keep a rubber mat in the shower or tub.

·         Keep a flashlight next to your bed.

·         Use a sturdy step stool with a handrail and wide steps for hard-to-reach areas.

·         Use a cane or walker.

·         Wear rubber-soled shoes.

·         Walk on grass instead of on slippery sidewalks.

·         Sprinkle salt or kitty litter on slippery sidewalks in winter.

·         Beware of polished floors.

·         Use plastic or carpet runners whenever possible.


Some people find out they have this condition the hard way, what with actual fractures potentially being the early symptoms of osteoporosis. However, people who are at an increased risk, or have gone through early menopause, took corticosteroids for several months at a time, or have a family history of hip fractures, may be screened with a bone mineral density tests, or BMD. The most common BMD test is called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. This test is able to:

·         Measure low bone density before a fracture takes place.

·         Confirm a diagnosis if the patient has already had one or more fractures.

·         Predict the risk of a future fracture.

·         Assess bone loss rate.

·         Evaluate response to treatment.

Speaking of which, treatment focuses on three main areas; nutrition, exercise, and medication.

Osteoporosis treatment

·         Nutrition

A balanced diet including foods rich in several vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, especially calcium and vitamin D.

·         Exercise

Exercise increases bone health, muscle strength, coordination, and balance.

·         Medications

Bisphosphonates (alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, zoledronic acid), estrogen agonists/antagonists, calcitonin, parathyroid hormone, estrogen therapy, hormone therapy.

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