You may find yourself asking “What is osteoporosis?” Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones can become damaged and eventually break, requiring treatment by a spine or back pain specialist.
What causes Osteoporosis?
A combination of age and a lack of calcium will decrease the density and while it can be treated, it is not possible to return badly damaged bones to the condition they were both once in. A lower back pain treatment doctor will be able to give you advice and treat any injuries that have already occurred.
There are issues such as age that contribute to the damage and as women are the more likely gender to suffer; it is not surprising that a deficiency of estrogen is another cause. Vitamin D and lack of calcium can also contribute to the breakdown of bone density, meaning that you will soon be diagnosed with osteoporosis. It is likely that a lot of people do not become aware that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone and find out the cause once they have gone through a round of testing. In some cases, they may even need to know the answer to the question “What is osteoporosis?
There may be some indication that all is not right as the break or fracture can come as a result of the most minimal of falls or knocks. Quick treatment should stop the fall being more serious than it has to be, but if you hurt your back, then you should see a spine specialist. Not all injuries will be particularly painful, but the way that they heal can still mean that there will be a deformity caused. The spine specialist will begin the diagnosis by measuring bone density and while there can be problems in the future; there are ways to limit the way that it affects your life.
A lower back pain treatment doctor and your bones
Bones are hard because they are made up of minerals and they need to remain strong to hold up the body. There has to be a continual supply of minerals such as calcium and they have to be able to produce hormones such as growth hormones along with estrogen and testosterone. Vitamin D also has to be present and this can come through food and sunlight. This is especially important as there are other conditions that can come about if there is a deficiency.
In order to cope with what is expected of the bones, they are regularly broken down and built up again. In the process known as remodeling, certain bits of bone are taken out and new parts are joined on. A lower back pain treatment doctor will talk to you about the possibility of this treatment. There are limits to the way this works, as when we are young they grow long and wide but in adulthood the length increases stop.
Women and bone density
Women and men follow the same sort of pattern when it comes to bone density up until about the age of 30 and it is at this time that the bones are as strong as they will ever be. It is all downhill after that and by the time they reach the menopause which is normally around the age of 50 the density starts to fall. Unless this can be changed – and there are not many ways to do this – then the bones will become fragile and osteoporosis will set in. A lower back pain treatment doctor will be the person you should turn to help you at this time. Records show that there are around 8 million women and probably 2 million males in the United States with the condition. They will have one of the two following forms: –
- Primary osteoporosis – This will just occur as the result of getting older.
- Secondary osteoporosis – This will start when there are problems caused as the result of another illness or taking particular types of drugs. Your lower back pain treatment doctor will get involved and work out a treatment plan for you.
The majority of people who have osteoporosis will suffer from this form. It will be around 95% of women and 80% of males. It will be age related in all cases, and for the women especially it will be related to them getting older and weaker. A spine specialist should be on hand to ensure the best care is taken of your back. As estrogen is produced less and less for women, they will start to notice the difference by the time they are in their 50s. At this age, men will probably have a higher level of estrogen which will lead to there being a delay in the rate with which they develop the problem.
Men will start to notice that their bones are getting weaker as their sex hormones level drops. If this is combined with lower than recommended levels of Vitamin D being ingested, there will be action in the parathyroid glands and too much of the hormone parathyroid will be released into the body. This will lead to the level of bone breakdown increasing, but there is not a full understanding as to how this happens. Even a spine specialist will be working in the dark sometimes and doing their best to treat what is happening to you. There are other reasons why it will be primary osteoporosis can occur:
- Alcohol – This will be higher level usage, not just the odd few drinks
- Family history of the condition
- Small stature – a spine specialist can explain why this will be a problem.
There are only a few females who will have to deal with secondary osteoporosis. It will be around 5% compared to 20% of men. There are a variety of conditions that can start off secondary osteoporosis including:
- Hormonal issues
- Kidney problems
- Cushing Disease
- Some cancers
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Mild addictions such as smoking and drinking alcohol or caffeine
Symptoms as explained by your spine specialist
As there is a gradual loss of density there will not be immediate symptoms. In some cases, the only symptom will be broken bones and a lower back pain treatment doctor will work with you to get you through this stage. There can be extra time needed for the breaks and fractures to heal, and when it is a bone in the spine, they may not recover the same way. There will eventually be curvature of the spine. It tends to be the ends of the bones that break rather than the centre.
With the spine it will be the bones in the middle and not the ends as well. It can only take the slightest knock for the spine to fracture and there will be little or no pain when it is a compression fracture. Walking can be painful and there will be a tender patch, but that should go after around a week. Follow the instructions of your spine specialist and this should give you some relief. The time to worry about osteoporosis is when there is a hip fracture as this will take a lot longer to heal and may not totally heal anyway.
If this is the case your lower back pain treatment doctor will work out a recovery program for you. Wrist fractures are also common and again can make life difficult for an older person. Unfortunately, once you start to suffer from fractures it is likely that they will increase, and you will have to learn to get used to living with them.
There is a selection of ways that you will have the diagnosis confirmed. The lower back pain treatment doctor will have an idea this may be the case if you are:
- 65+ year old female
- Suffered unexplained fractures in the past – even your spine specialist may not be sure quite how they occurred.
- 65+ and have noticed that you are losing height
- X-rays show that your bones are losing density
- In the category for secondary osteoporosis
In order to get an exact diagnosis, there will be testing for Vitamin D levels, specific bone density testing and research into whether or not you are at risk of secondary osteoporosis.
Bone density testing
The results will be accurate even if it is carried out before there has been a fracture. The wrists and the heels are the areas the test will concentrate on and these are classed as rapid screening. There is another however that the lower back pain treatment doctor find are more suitable and this is the DXA – dual energy x ray absorptiometry and they can see what deterioration in density has occurred at the spine and hip. A spine specialist is the best person to be involved at this stage of the treatment. There is no need to worry about radiation or discomfort as the test will be over in around 15 minutes and here there is also the chance to see if there are signs of osteopenia. Blood tests will show up vitamin deficiencies and could show areas where further testing is needed.
There are much better results when it comes to preventing osteoporosis than there is to be treating it, as there are not many treatments that can be carried out as your lower back pain treatment doctor should explain to you when you have a consultation. The best things to do will be: –
- Recognize the lifestyle choices that are putting you at risk and cut them down. This can mean stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol and limiting caffeine.
- Increase the intake of vitamin D as outline by a spine specialist.
- Exercise. The best ones will be ones classed as weight bearing. Simply walking up and down stairs can help, but if you are up to it, take weight training classes.
- Medication. This will work for some and should only be taken with the approval of the doctor.
- Medical tests. Seeing and hearing better can take away some of the day to day risks.
- The home. Make sure that it is fit for purpose and there is nothing that is going to lead to an accident.
Treatment of pain and fractures
Pain killers will often be enough to make sure that you get through the discomfort of fractures. Some people will also find that they benefit from massage or heat treatment. Exercises to build up the muscles will be suggested, but this should only start when the lower back pain treatment doctor is sure that the fracture has definitely healed. With a hip fracture there may have to be a hip replacement procedure performed, so this is clearly a more serious injury. Wrists will need to be put in a cast as will many other bones that break.
Vertebroplasty will be required when the vertebra collapse and MMA will be put into it. This is a form of fake bone cement and can be used in conjunction with kyphoplasty, which is the process that uses a balloon to put the vertebra back into position. There are risks however with carrying this out as there is a chance that the ribs will be damaged and even more seriously, there could be problems caused for the heart and lungs.
It is a big decision to go ahead and do this when there is no overall evidence that it is the right thing to do. A spine specialist will not carry out treatment unless they are totally sure that this is what is required. Having the lower back pain treatment doctor monitor the injury is one of the best ways to deal with them. Ideally there will not be any injuries or breaks that have to be dealt with, but it is likely that there will be. You must do all you can to limit the amount and level of injury as this will make any treatment that is needed for osteoporosis minimum.