Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Osteoporosis literally means “Porous/ Weak Bones”. And this is a condition that affects women 4 times more than it affects men.

By Khushi Khare, Content Writer
Published Mar 30, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Ameya Kulkarni

You might have observed your mothers and other elderly people in your family with a hunched or stooped posture or heard them complaining about cramps and bone pain.

They would have regaled you with stories of how different they looked in their youth or how tall they used to be. It is always a surprise to look at their old photos and see their impeccable posture and poise!

These changes are because of a medical condition called osteoporosis which primarily affects women.

Many women are unaware of the drastic drop in their hormone levels after menopause. This hormonal decline leads to loss of bone mass. Up to 10% of a woman's bone mass is reduced by the time she reaches middle age. 

Loss in bone mass is termed osteoporosis. It is characterised by weak and brittle bones which are prone to fracture.  

Although osteoporosis can be scary — there are ways to manage it naturally through diet and lifestyle changes.

This article is a comprehensive guide to help you combat postmenopausal osteoporosis. 

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means “Porous/ Weak Bones”. And this is a condition that affects women 4 times more than it affects men.

Your bone mass typically peaks around the age of 30-35 years of age. And after this age, your bone mass starts to decline. This decline is at a rate of about 1% per year and it is the same for both men and women. It is only after menopause that women have an accelerated loss of bone mass. Women lose about 15% of their bone mass in the first 5 years of menopause. By the time they are 70, women have lost about 30-50% of their bone mass.

Signs and symptoms of postmenopausal osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is known as the “Silent Disease”. And so it is often difficult to diagnose it before it results in fractures.The most common fractures osteoporosis results in are the vertebral fractures. It causes bend in the spine near the shoulder referred to as 'widow's hump' . Remember about the sudden loss in height among elders? It is a sign of fractured vertebrae. Apart from this, osteoporosis is also most likely to cause fractures in the hip or wrist.

Other signs and symptoms can be receding gums, decreased grip strength,cramps , bone pain or brittle nails.

How can postmenopausal osteoporosis be detected?

So is there any method to measure the mass or the density of your bones? Yes! Bone density can be measured by a special type of a CT scan and a procedure called the Dual Energy X ray Absorptiometry- the DXA or the DEXA scan. The results are then compared with the bone density of a healthy young adult (T Score) or an age matched young adult (Z Score). 

T Score - Interpretation

-1 to 1 - Normal

-1 to -2.5 - Osteopenia

Lower than -2.5 - Osteoporosis

Being a form of X ray study, it is not routinely recommended for everyone. Your doctor can evaluate you and decide whether you need to undergo this test.

Treatments for postmenopausal osteoporosis

Whether you measure your bone density by the DEXA scan or not, and while it is possible to treat osteoporosis, it is more prudent to prevent it.

Here are a few things to implement at the earliest to prevent osteoporosis.

Diet: Your bones are made up of calcium! So including good amounts of calcium in your diet can help your bones be strong. Around menopause, you must consume 1200 mg of calcium in a day. You can get this calcium when you are consuming good amounts of dairy products and lots of green vegetables in your daily diet. If you are a non-vegetarian, consumption of good meat and eggs will give you your daily dose of calcium. 

As important as Calcium, is Vitamin D as your body cannot absorb calcium in its absence. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight.  Thus, it is recommended to sit under the sun between 10 am to 3 pm, as your body synthesizes the highest amount of vitamin D at this time. 

If it is difficult for you to do this, you can also add calcium and vitamin D supplements to your diet after consulting a doctor.

We advise getting a consultation from a dietician for a customized diet plan.

Exercises:  The solution may lie not just in the diet but in physical resistance too.

Various exercises like yoga, walking, mild weight lifting are some of the activities one can do to strengthen their bones and muscles. It is best to exercise under the guidance of an expert physical trainer to get the best results.

Pharmacological intervention: if the symptoms continue to persist even after lifestyle changes,there are medicines that can help.

You may also book a consultation with the experts at Elda Health to get personalized advice. 

Conclusion

Osteoporosis doesn’t have to be a part of your future. There are lifestyle changes and many different forms of treatment that can prevent and dramatically slow down bone degeneration.

As we conclude this blog ― we hope that every woman approaching or experiencing menopause will visit her doctor today for a bone density test. Together, we can fight post

menopausal osteoporosis!

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