Osteoporosis refers to a condition that results in low bone density and structural degeneration of bone tissue, which increases the risk of breaking bones. Osteoporosis by itself does not cause pain. The condition can cause back pain, limited mobility, and other complications, such as vertebral fractures.
Screening for risk factors based on age and sex is a good way to catch osteoporosis before it becomes serious. A bone density test (densitometry) may be ordered if screening indicates a high risk of osteoporosis.
Low bone density should be checked in all women older than 65 and any younger postmenopausal women with risk factors. Some guidelines call for women to screen as early as age 50. However, for men who are more at risk, there is an official recommendation that men aged 70 and over be screened.
Bone forms differently from other tissues. It is not formed by cells splitting in two. Bone is formed by a constant process of breaking down and rebuilding old cells. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone breaks down more quickly than it can be repaired, resulting in a loss of bone density.
Remodeling is the process of growing bone. The following are the components of bone remodeling:
First, large bone cells, called osteoclasts, release enzymes to break down bone cells. The osteoclast processes fragmented bone cells.
Resorption is the process by which calcium and phosphorus are released from broken bone cells into the bloodstream.
Osteoblasts are cells that produce growth factors and enzymes. This creates a matrix of cells, a process known as bone formation.
The osteoblasts are absorbed in the matrix and transformed into osteocytes (bone cells).
Between the ages of 18 and 25, most people reach their peak bone mass. At that time, bone remodeling and resorption happen at roughly the same pace. As we age, hormones that affect bone remodeling and resorption change. More bone is lost than can be rebuilt.
Who is affected by osteoporosis
Osteoporosis, which is the leading cause of back pain in the United States, is one of the most common problems. Every year, osteoporosis causes approximately 500,000 spinal fractures.
Osteoporosis can be a problem for both men and women older than 50 years. This is because bone growth slows down naturally later in life. Postmenopausal females are the most affected by osteoporosis.
Transgender women and men who take hormone replacement therapy could be at higher risk of osteoporosis than those who don’t. There is very little research on transgender health to determine if transgender individuals are at greater risk.
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