Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is characterized by weakening bones and a greater risk of bone fracture. It occurs when the body loses its ability to form new bone matter or when the existing bone matter is reabsorbed by the body, causing the bone density to decrease. The disease develops slowly over many years and remains hidden without exhibiting any noticeable osteoporosis symptoms. In fact, most cases of osteoporosis are not diagnosed till a minor fall causes a bone to fracture and hints towards the disease.
This article gives you a list of 5 most commonly seen osteoporosis symptoms. Although these symptoms (or lack thereof) can seem very generic, they are currently the most effective signs of identifying the disease.
1 Minimal Trauma or Stress Fractures
The human bones are biologically designed to handle small falls; bone fractures occur only when the bones have to bear significantly high amounts of stress. Minimal trauma or stress fractures are those which occur in the course of normal functioning of the body. In these, no significant stress is placed on the bones and yet they get fatigued or even fracture. An osteoporosis patient may develop a stress fracture while performing a simple activity like walking, stepping down a staircase or even coughing or sneezing. Stress fractures are a wide ranging set of osteoporosis symptoms and you must be very diligent in monitoring them.
2 Wrist Fractures
A person suffering from osteoporosis may develop a wrist fracture in normal course of operation. Osteoporosis induced wrist fractures mostly occur while pulling or lifting even small objects or when the person extends his/her arm to break a fall. The most common type of wrist fracture seen in osteoporosis patients is the Colles fracture (also called distal radius fracture). In this, the wrist joint is displaced and repositioned further up the forearm. Wrist fractures are indicated by sharp pain and swelling. If you suffer a wrist fracture from normal activity, you must seek an osteoporosis diagnosis right after treating the fracture because this is one of the first osteoporosis symptoms to manifest themselves.
2 Hip Fractures
Osteoporisis can cause hip fractures in patients from normal activities such as jumping, climbing or even walking. Hip fractures caused by osteoporis can be intracapsular or extracapsular. In intracapsular fractures, the structure of the hip joint capsule is disturbed while in extracapsular fractures, the damage is done outside the main joint. The affected bones may break and displace. Sometimes, broken bones maintain their original alignment and are not displaced. These are accompanied by severe pain and an unlevelling of the length of the two legs.
4 Lower Back Pain (and Spinal Fractures)
Perhaps the most adverse of the osteoporosis symptoms are the multiple fractures silently taking place in the vertebrae. As the bone density of the bones in vertebral column decreases, these begin to deteriorate and even break silently without any noticeable pain. In the latter stages of the disease, patients feel a band-like pain rising from the base of the back and sides. This may develop into a chronic low back pain that most patients fail to recognize as a symptom of osteoporosis.
4 Stooping (Dowager’s Hump) or Decrease in Height
If the multiple fractures in the vertebral column are severe enough, the entire column may begin to bend and take a curved shape. This condition is called “dowager’s hump” and is commonly seen in old women. Before the hump is fully formed and becomes noticeable, patients may notice an uncanny decrease in their height.
5 Lack of Swelling and Pain
Lastly and most importantly, you must remember that osteoporosis symptoms are very different from arthritis symptoms. Unlike arthritis, there may be no pain or swelling in many osteoporosis cases. Hence, if you experience one of the above mentioned symptoms don’t wait for the affected area to pain or swell, seek treatment right away.
Osteoporosis silently eats away at your bones and can reduce age as well as quality of life. 80% of diagnosed osteoporosis cases come from women and 50% women above the age of 50 are affected by this disease. Although this disease affects both sexes, women face a greater risk, especially before or when undergoing menopause (cessation of menstruation) and must be extra diligent at identifying the osteoporosis symptoms discussed above.