Osteoporosis is caused by a loss of bone mass as well as the fraying of bone tissue, which makes the bones susceptible to fractures and breaks, even from otherwise innocuous activities. The bone disease will affect as many as 50% of women and 25% of men in their lifetimes, particularly in their later years, and it’s often difficult to pick up the signs of its development. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 8 signs that osteoporosis may be ravaging your bones.
8. Family History of Osteoporosis
You’re at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis if members of your immediate family have also developed it, particularly your parents, grandparents, or siblings. If one or both of your parents have suffered hip fractures, that’s one of the most telling signs that you could be at risk of getting osteoporosis in the future yourself. Your ethnicity also comes into play, with those of European and Asian descent being more likely to suffer from it. In comparison, those of Hispanic or African descent are about half as likely to develop osteoporosis.
7. Growing Shorter
Most of us are likely to grow a little shorter as we age, but a greater-than-normal loss of height could be a sign of osteoporosis. As the spinal bones weaken, they can collapse on each other, leading to a noteworthy drop in height. While back pain can accompany such a collapse and can be a warning sign of its own, it’s not always present. Women on average lose about two inches in height by the time they’re 70, while men lose about one inch, so any height losses of half-an-inch or more above those averages are considered a warning sign.
6. Losing Teeth
While teeth falling out could be caused by poor dental hygiene or other factors, it could also be a sign of osteoporosis. As teeth are held in place by the jaw bone, its erosion can cause not only a loss of teeth but also other dental and oral issues. In addition, denture wearers can also be affected by osteoporosis, and are more likely to need new dentures with greater frequency, as bone loss can lead to changes in the ridges that hold dentures in place.
5. Poor Posture
As with a loss of height and back pain, poor posture can also be another sign that osteoporosis has taken hold in the spine and may have caused fractures to the vertebrae. The fractures can lead to various states of spinal misalignment, known as Kyphosis, or dowager’s hump, with the worst cases forcing sufferers into very bent-over positions. As with the other cases involving the spine, pain may or may not be present, so height and posture are two of the defining traits to recognize osteoporosis’s effects on the back.
4. Small Frame
If you have a slight frame, you’re more likely to develop osteoporosis as you age, as you have less bone mass, which peaks in your early-20’s, than people with average or large builds. As this bone mass begins to deplete as we age, those who started with less peak bone mass are more likely to run low and develop osteoporosis. It’s estimated that about 15% of people have smaller-than-average frames, which can most easily be measured by comparing your wrist size in conjunction with your height. You can calculate your frame size using the following chart from the National Institutes of Health.
For women, this is one of the biggest signs that they’re now at an increased risk of osteoporosis. When a woman enters menopause, her estrogen levels decline and bone loss begins to greatly outpace bone growth, as estrogen inhibits bone resorption and slows the process of bone turnover. This is why women are anywhere from 50% to 100% more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Hormone therapy may be necessary for women who hit menopause at a young age, or for post-menopausal women who have other osteoporosis risk factors as well.
2. Medical Conditions
If you’re suffering from any of a number of different medical conditions which either weaken the bones or require you to undergo treatments that weaken the bones, you are a greater risk of osteoporosis developing. Some of the conditions that could cause bone loss are rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lupus, kidney disease, and chronic liver disease. If you’ve had gastric bypass surgery, taken hormonal treatments for breast cancer or prostate cancer, or have taken corticosteroid medications like cortisone over a long period of time, those treatments could also lead to weaker bones and a higher risk of osteoporosis.
1. Easily Fractured Bones
This is the surest sign that osteoporosis is present in your bones, though one that would ideally be avoided by catching some of the other signs before this one can occur. The hips, wrists, and spine are particularly prone to suffering osteoporotic fractures, which are about 6x more likely than incidences of heart attack or stroke. Hip fractures can be particularly damaging, with over 30% of those who suffer one dying within the next year. About 50% of people who suffer hip fractures will also have another fracture within 5 years.
Adopted from original article