Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Healthy bones have some spaces within them. The structure resembles a honeycomb. Osteoporosis causes these spaces to become wider. This usually happens when there is an imbalance between old bone resorption and new bone formation. The bones lose their density and strength, and become weaker. The outside structure of the bones also become thinner.

Osteoporosis is caused due to the loss of bone tissue and low bone mass. It causes the bone to become fragile and weak. Osteoporosis makes a person susceptible to fractures. Fractures related to osteoporosis commonly occur in the wrist, ribs, spine, and hips. Osteoporosis is more common among women than among men. Women become susceptible to osteoporosis-related fractures after they hit menopause. It is estimated that approximately 50 million Americans have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis.

The following are some of the common risk factors that increase the probability of osteoporosis-

  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Unhealthy diet, especially one lacking in calcium
  • Smoking
  • Being underweight
  • Small-boned frame
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Estrogen deficiency in women, low testosterone levels in men
  • Certain diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, leukemia
  • Excess alcohol consumption

Common signs and symptoms of osteoporosis
There are no definite early signs and symptoms of osteoporosis. This bone disorder is diagnosed only when there is a fracture due to a slight injury. However, there are a few symptoms that may indicate osteoporosis-

  • Receding gums
    There might be bone loss in the jaw causing the bones to become weak and gums to recede.
  • Weak grip strength
    Handgrip strength is one of the most important indicators of bone strength and osteoporosis. Hand grip strength also indicates the overall bone mineral density. Weak grip strength indicates a low bone mineral density, which can be a sign of bone loss and weakness. A strong grip indicates low risk of osteoporosis.
  • Brittle and weak fingernails
    Another significant indicator of bone health is the strength of fingernails. If fingernails tend to break easily, it can indicate lack of calcium in the body and low bone density.
  • Compression fracture or stooped posture
    Low bone density and strength can cause the upper back to curve slightly. This happens due to the compression of the vertebrae. This leads to a stooped back, which is also known as widow’s hump or kyphosis. This can also cause neck and back pain. The compression of the vertebrae can put additional pressure on the airways and restrict the expansion of the lungs. This can make breathing difficult.
  • Height loss
    One of the most tell-tale symptoms of osteoporosis is a loss of height. This can occur due to compression fractures in the spine. This is a parallel effect of stooped posture symptom.
  • Neck or back pain
    Another effect of compression fractures is chronic neck and back pain. A compression fracture can cause the vertebrae to collapse or bend slightly. The collapsed vertebrae may pinch the nerves that branch out from the spine. This can trigger mild to intense pain in the neck and the back.