What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones may become thin and weak. This can further lead to fractures especially in areas such as the hip, the wrist and the spine. Those who have low bone mass are at high risk for this condition.
Those who are at high risk for osteoporosis are women who are of older age, those who have vertigo, those who have HIV/AIDS, those who have gastric cancer, those who are of Caucasian or of South Asian descent, those have a family history of osteoporosis, people who have small frames and those who smoke. Women who had early menopause are at high risk of developing osteoporosis because of an early significant drop in estrogen levels. Those who have eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia may also have a higher risk for developing osteoporosis.
People with Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular diseases may also be at risk for osteoporosis. Thos who have intake of some medications may also be at high risk. Examples of these medications that can cause osteoporosis include corticosteroids, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), blood thinning medications, methotrexate, drugs for epilepsy, diuretics and some aluminum-containing antacids.
Other medical conditions that may also cause osteoporosis include thyroid problems, breast cancer, cancer chemotherapy or use of aromatase inhibitors (anastrozole and letrozole) which suppress estrogen, long term low calcium intake, gastrectomy or stomach surgery, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, vitamin D deficiency, and Cushing’s disease; long-term physical inactivity, too much caffeine consumption, alcoholism and depression can also result to osteoporosis.
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Osteoporosis may develop slowly over the years and may develop early signs such as joint pains, difficulty standing and difficulty sitting up straight. Bone density and bone mass continue to go down and the person with osteoporosis may develop fractures of the hip, wrist or bones in the spine. Even small stress such as coughing or sneezing can cause collapse of a spinal bone. People who are of older age may have problems in bone regeneration because their bones cannot repair themselves properly. If bones are unrepaired for a long time, they may develop arthritis and may make the sufferer seriously disabled. Fractures may also become very painful.
Osteoporosis is often diagnosed by laboratory tests such as DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scan, dental x-rays, ultrasound, and calcium intake especially in men. Those who should get evaluated for osteoporosis include those who are 65 years old or older, those who are postmenopausal and have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis, those who have spine abnormalities, those who are taking medications which may raise the risk of osteoporosis, Type 1 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, a family history of osteoporosis and early menopause.
Osteoporosis Diagnosis and Treatment
Recently, a group of researchers from Germany and The Netherlands have discovered a new target that may be critical for the treatment of osteoporosis. This group of researchers have expressed that new studies in zebrafish and mice have shown that injection of human plastin 3 (PLS3) or related proteins in zebrafish where PLS3 action has been suppressed can replace its loss and repair the bone development anomalies associated with this deficiency. Furthermore, overexpression of human (PLS3) in normal mice had a significant impact on bone development and maintenance, making them more resistant to fractures. It has been confirmed by previous research that PLS3 mutations could cause osteoporosis. Human PLS3, actinin 1 and actinin 4 and F-actin proteins 2 are involved in bundling' or building the scaffolding' for cells, and can lead to bone development and maintenance. Those who express higher than normal levels of PLS3 are said to be protected from osteoporosis.
To read more recent news about osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal disease, feel free to read our other articles on this site.
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