Risk Factors

Symptoms don’t always tell the story

People with osteoporosis may have pain in their bones and muscles, particularly in their back. Many, however, don’t experience pain or any symptoms, for that matter, until a bone fractures. Even then, some people don’t recognize a fracture as a warning sign.

Recent studies have proven that osteoporosis can strike much younger people than we have come to expect (male and female alike).

Leading indicators

  • Spontaneous fractures in the small bones of the foot
  • Premature loss of teeth
  • Scoliosis or change in posture
  • “Fragility” fractures, wherever they occur in your body

Types of risk factors
Risk factors can be classified in multiple ways:

  • Controllable vs. uncontrollable
  • Primary vs. secondary
  • Common or rare

For a more complete outline of risk factors check our long list of risk factors.

More indicators

You may have none of the risk factors and still be well on your way to developing osteoporosis. A bone density measurement is the only way your doctor can really make a diagnosis.

On the other hand, symptoms of advanced osteoporosis can be obvious. In addition to the leading indicators above, look for persistent back pain, sudden muscle spasms in the back, height loss, rib pain, abdominal pain, breathing problems and, of course, fractures of major bones.

Most common risk factors

Gender: Women are especially prone to osteoporosis. At the time of menopause, when estrogen levels produced by the ovaries drop, women may lose bone at a rate of 2% to 5% of their bone bank per year for several years. It’s estimated that by age 50, a woman has a nearly 40 percent chance of developing an osteoporotic fracture during her remaining life. Osteoporosis in men.

Aging: Although there is a balance between bone production and removal, the skeleton tends to lose bone mass later in life. This deficit starts in the mid-to-late forties after peak bone mass is reached; it increases after age fifty.

Heredity: Genetic factors account for about three-fourths of the variance in peak bone mass.

Nutrition: National surveys show that many Americans are not consuming enough calcium. In fact, many women consume less than half of the daily recommended amount.

Lifestyle: Lack of exercise seems to be the dominant predictor for loss of bone mass. Many who lead sedentary lives also engage in other unhealthful lifestyle habits life smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These habits alone will increase your chance of developing osteoporosis, but when combined with minimal physical activity their effects are multiplied.

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