Soft Bones are associated with a condition called Osteoporosis. This is a problem where the bones in the body become more porous, soft and can fracture easily states Dr. Prem Pillay. Loss of calcium and bone matrix is the reason. This can occur slowly over years before a problem happens. The earlier stage is called osteopenia.
People with this problem are usually above 50. More women than men are affected with this condition. There is information that almost half of all women and one quarter of all men above 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. More than one in five people with hip fractures associated with osteoporosis die within a year from a Singapore study. Asian and white women are also more prone to this problem states Dr. Prem Pillay. In both women and men lower levels of hormones such as estrogen in women and androgen or testosterone in men is a factor.
Another reason called secondary osteoporosis is from excessive loss of calcium in the urine, Vitamin D deficiency and thyroid problems. Studies in Singapore indicate that more Asian men may have secondary osteoporosis then previously thought. Hypercalciuria was found as a cause in about one fifth of this group in a Singapore study. A reason could be the high salt content in Asian food which can cause leaking or leaching of calcium from the bones and then excreted in the urine states Dr. Prem. He has seen younger men in their late 30s and 40s with osteoporosis although this is not common emphasizes Dr. Prem.
Osteoporosis can be silent and unknown until a fall occurs and a bone breaks. Even a minor stress like bending over and coughing could cause a fracture in people with severe osteoporosis. The hips, spine and wrists are the danger area for broken bones states Dr. Prem. Osteoporosis can cause pain in the spine. It can also cause pain in the bones. Sudden severe pain can occur with a minor fall or accident.
Tests that are done include simple X-rays to assess fractures and DEXA scanning to assess bone density. Hormone tests and urine tests are also useful in finding out the possible causes. A typical person is like Mrs. C, a lady in her 70s who had a minor stumble at home and landed on her buttocks. From that time she had severe mid and lower back pain that did not improve much with pain medications and massage. Testing including DEXA, X-rays and MRI scans showed a wedge compression fracture of the upper lumbar spine and lower thoracic spine vertebrae. A specialized day procedure through a spine injection method called Vertebral Body Augmentation (VBA, Vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty) was done under sedation as a day procedure. She had excellent pain relief and was walking the next day.
Those people with osteoporosis from aging and post menopausal bone loss can be treated with calcium and vitamin D supplements. They may also need medications to slow down bone loss and/or stimulate bone production states Dr. Prem. If a spine fracture occurs and causes pain it can be treated now without surgery.
There are advanced spine injection type treatments including vertebroplasty and the more modern kyphoplasty to treat the injured vertebral body of the spine. Either a balloon or a spine wand energy treatment may also be used during the treatment. Spine related pain can be reduced in the majority of patients as a day procedure. Subsequent physiotherapy and medications can help return people to a normal life and reduce the chance of future fractures states Dr. Prem Pillay. Early detection and awareness remains important and prevention of this silent disease has more of an impact, emphasizes Dr. Prem.
For more information: spine-neuro.org.