Osteoporosis, The Most Common Bone Problem In The Elderly
Bone problems are associated with the natural aging process and are common to appear in the age group 40-60 and above revealing clinical manifestations such as pain, fractures and swelling etc. As we age, bones become less dense and get more susceptible to thinning and fractures. The commonest bone disease among elderly is osteoporosis which is the reduction of bone density making the bones weak and brittle. It is estimated that approximately 1.4 million Canadians are affected from Osteoporosis, the majority of which include post-menopausal women and elderly population.
Osteoporosis is an abnormal process that causes bones to become weak and brittle thus making them susceptible to fractures. Osteoporosis is progression of bone demineralization in which even mild force or stress can cause the bone to fracture, most commonly affecting bones of spine, hips and wrists. Women are somewhat more likely to get affected by osteoporosis which leads to low bone mass and density among them.
Fractures caused by osteoporosis can affect several bones including bones of foot. Osteoporosis of foot causes generalized pain in feet with poor localization which means the affected individuals are unable to point out the exact location of aches and pains. Bones of our body are in a recurring state of renewal and in osteoporosis this process is altered as bone degradation overtakes bone formation. This results in weakened bones that can sometimes fracture more easily than anticipated. Osteoporosis of the foot, specifically may lead to loss of normal foot arches.
Osteoporosis can lead to loss of bone density of bones comprising foot skeleton which may manifest as bone thinning and washed out appearances on radiographs and bone density scans. The primary diagnostic technique for osteoporosis is the assessment of bone density via “DEXA Scan”. This method can both be used to diagnose the problem and predict the effectiveness of treatment among individuals.
There are several risk factors that predispose an individual to acquire osteoporosis. The most important ones include higher age causing natural decline in bone density, low level of sex hormones in the body which otherwise play a vital role in keeping the bones young, dietary factors such as inadequate calcium intake, inactive lifestyle and certain medications such as steroids.
In case of individual who have developed bone demineralization, little can be done to revert the process however appropriate measures taken in time can help stop the progression of disease and consequently lead a more vigorous life. Bone pains including foot pain can be an alarming sign of osteoporosis which necessitates consultation of a medical professional. Preventive measures include simple lifestyle changes such as selection of safe exercises that do not put harmful stress on already brittle bones. Elderly people having difficulty in walking should use walking aids to keep up the steady pace. Use of calcium and vitamin D supplements is recommended to halt the process of bone demineralization especially for women above age 35. Falls are a common cause of fractures in elders, so caregivers should pay special attention to prevent them. Test for Bone diseases should be done at an early stage to identify and successfully manage the bone problems and a necessary consultation should be arranged in this regard.