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Understanding Osteoporosis: Recognize the Signs Before It’s Too Late

Osteoporosis Symptoms. Osteoporosis often does not show symptoms until a bone fractures. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • Back pain is caused by a fractured or compressed vertebra.
  • Height loss over time.
  • A stooped posture.
  • Bones that fracture much more easily than expected.

The NIH refers to osteoporosis as “the silent disease. Because symptoms generally do not appear until bone fractures or one or more vertebrae in the spine collapse. Symptoms of a broken vertebra include severe back pain, height loss, or a stooped or hunched posture.

Bones affected by osteoporosis can fracture very easily, either due to:

  • Minor falls that normally would not cause a healthy bone to break;
  • Normal strains such as bending or squatting, lifting objects, or even coughing.

When to Consult a Doctor

It is advisable to discuss osteoporosis with your doctor. If you experienced early menopause or have been taking corticosteroids for several months in a row. Or if either of your parents suffered a hip fracture.

The Silent Epidemic

For years, osteoporosis has been known as the “silent epidemic” because it does not produce symptoms, although pain appears when a fracture occurs.

Experts indicate that some vertebral fractures may go unnoticed since they do not produce symptoms. People miss the opportunity to halt bone mass loss and reduce the risk of new fractures in these cases.

The most common fractures in osteoporosis are those of the proximal femur, humerus, vertebrae, and distal forearm (wrist).

Osteoporosis Symptoms

In cases where the patient experiences acute severe pain during light efforts such as moderate weight bearing, or a slight trauma, a vertebral fracture is often present.

The patient will have a contracture preventing flexion and rotation maneuvers of the spine. The crisis usually lasts two to three weeks, and the intensity of the pain decreases progressively over the following three months; remission can be total or partial.

Occasionally, a vertebral fracture may occur without the patient perceiving any symptoms, or it may cause discomfort that is not intense enough to require medical assistance. Some authors consider that this situation occurs in up to two-thirds of cases. People assume the absence of pain, or its low intensity, is due to the slow onset of the process.

Another symptom of this fracture is a dull, deep pain localized in the iliac fossae and flanks, as a result of the rib cage rubbing against the pelvis. This possibility helps rule out explorations for the existence of any intestinal or renal pathology.

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