Understanding Osteoporosis

by Tshepy Matloga-Malope
Osteoporosis - BabyYumYum
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Osteoporosis is a common disease that affects human bones and increases the risk of fractures. It primarily affects women, especially after menopause, but can also impact men. How can you be preventative? By Tshepy Matloga-Malope

What causes osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis happens through microdeteriation, which means losing bone faster than the body is generating it. Symptoms include loss of height, spinal deformities, and suffering from wrist, hip, and spine fractures.

According to Lonese Jacobs, a physiotherapist at Lonese Physio, Osteoporosis can develop due to various factors, such as:

  • Age: As we get older, bone density naturally decreases, so women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 65 are at high risk.
  • Hormonal: When a woman experiences menopause or early menopause, there is a reduction in the production of estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that assists in promoting the activity of bone growth through the osteoblasts (cells that make bones). This results in slowing down the new bone formation.
  • Certain medications: Certain medications can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Long-term use of corticosteroids, anticoagulants, diuretics, and hormone therapy for cancer It is important to remember that these medications are important in assisting in the proper function of the body, and concerns need to be addressed with the prescribing practitioner.
  • Lifestyle choices: Lifestyles that increase our risk include not getting enough calcium, which is required for bone formation along with Vitamin D. Daily consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks per day can impact the absorption of calcium and Vitamin D by interfering with the pancreas. Other lifestyle choices that impact on bone formation include smoking cigarettes, drinking caffeine, and not exercising.
  • Chronic disease: Chronic diseases that increase the risk are those that impact hormonal function, like your thyroid, parathyroid as well as diabetes. It’s important to note that A low calcium absorption or Vitamin D in your diet can be because of a gastrointestinal disease or haematological disorder.
  • Genetics: Pay attention to your family history as a genetic predisposition will increase your risk.

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Although some factors cannot be controlled, Jacobs stresses the importance of reducing the factors that we do have control over and stimulate bone growth. “Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, dancing, and resistance exercises assist in the process. For those who are already diagnosed with osteoporosis, a healthy diet, reducing risky behaviour, and medication can assist while you rebuild and strengthen,” she said.


Osteoporosis is diagnosed by taking a complete medical history, which includes listing any fractures one may have suffered.

The bone mineral density (BMD) is tested using machines that look at the bone structure in more detail. The machine most preferred and used is called X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). This machine determines whether small amounts of bone loss are significant enough to be classified as osteoporosis. What causes osteoporosis

Why do you need a bone density test?

Understanding your bone density is crucial to the early diagnosis and prevention of Osteoporosis. Bone density testing helps determine the strength of the bones and assess the risk of fractures. By detecting low bone density early, one can take proactive steps to prevent fractures and manage the condition effectively.

“It’s very important to test for bone density, as being aware of the risks will give you the awareness to seek an assessment from a health care provider to screen you, and should you meet the requirement, we can intervene early with appropriate treatments and lifestyle modifications to prevent fractures, improving your quality of life,” said Jacobs.

Although osteoporosis mostly comes with age, adopting a balanced diet and making healthy lifestyle choices can significantly reduce the risk of having the condition. Testing for bone density is also very important for the early detection and effective management of osteoporosis. By understanding your bone health, you can take proactive steps to prevent fractures and maintain your quality of life.

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