What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, it occurs when bone mass is lost faster than it is created as a person ages. This can result in weak and brittle bones which are more susceptible to fractures following a fall or even a minor bump.
Osteoporosis is an increasingly prevalent problem amongst the ageing population in Singapore. It is often referred to as a “silent” disease, as there are usually no symptoms before a fracture occurs. Prolonged immobilisation and a reduction in lifestyle activities due to fractures can significantly reduce one’s quality of life, making osteoporosis the leading cause of morbidity and mortality amongst the elderly.
Although all bones in the body are susceptible to the disease, osteoporosis is most likely to occur in the hip, wrist, spine, and the legs.
Risk factors and Prevention
There are a myriad of factors that contribute to the increased risk of developing osteoporosis, such as:
- Pre-existing medical conditions
In particular, older females of Asian descent are at a greater risk of osteoporosis. Bone loss starts to occur in their 40s, and increases significantly after menopause due to lowered levels of oestrogen.
Dietary and lifestyle choices can help slow down the rate of progression. Osteoporosis is more likely to occur in people who are undernourished and/or have a low calcium intake, Therefore, it is important to consume a nutrient-rich diet consisting of 1,000 mg of calcium a day for most adults, and 1,200 mg for women over 50 and everyone over 70.1
People with sedentary lifestyles, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use, are also at a greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Weight bearing exercises such as walking and dancing help build and maintain bone density, while resistance training exercises are targeted at strengthening bones and muscles.
How Can My Podiatrist Help?
Early diagnosis is crucial in preventing the many sequelae of osteoporosis. Your podiatrist may perform a bone density test as a predictive measure and a physical examination to detect any abnormalities with gait and/or balance.
Podiatric Intervention may consist of: