Table of Contents
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones in the body and weakens them, making them a lot more fragile and prone to breakages and fractures. The most common areas that suffer fractures are the wrists, hips and vertebrae but the fractures can occur in all areas of the body.
There is no single cause for osteoporosis but it usually develops first in females after the menopause because the bones begin to lose densitty after the age of 35, and particularly quickly post-menopause. There are some factors that increase the risk of developing the condition, which are:
- Conditions causing inflammation such as arthritis, Crohn's disease and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder)
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Long-term use of certain medications affecting hormone levels
- Heavy drinking or smoking
Diagnosis usually occurs when you suffer fractures from minor accidents such as a simple fall. The physician then refers you for a DEXA scan to determine your bone density and this is used to assess your fracture risk.
What Are Brittle Bones?
Brittle bones are a similar condition to osteoporosis, however rather than developing at an older age it is a genetic condition that causes the bones to break easily because of the lack of collagen in the body. There is no cure for brittle bones but generally the symptoms are manageable once the disorder is diagnosed.
There are eight different types of brittle bone disease and these are determined by the genetic variation and the quality of collagen in that person. Type 1 is the mildest and type 8 is the most severe and causes the most difference in a persons ability to perform daily functions.
Because of the different degrees of the condition, the symptoms can vary from person to person. Generally anyone suffering the condition will be shorter than average, bruise and fracture easily and tend to have brittle teeth as well. They may also sweat more than others and have hearing problems because the bones in the ear tend to be deformed.
How Does This Affect My Life?
Apart from the physical side effects of this type of disease there are social and psychological factors to consider as well. Particularly with children who are undiagnosed at birth, parents can often be accused of abuse because of the level of bruising that can occur easily.
Also, children and adults are often afraid of trying new things because of fear and quite often seek advice from counsellors to help improve their state of mind. Physical therapists are often used to help work with people to determine the safe physical limits of their bodies.