Osteoporosis Prevention: Maintain Your Bone Health

13 October 2023

Kenali faktor risiko, gejala, dan pemeriksaan kesehatan tulang untuk mencegah osteoporosis.

Bones provide structure to the body, supporting it to keep it upright and strong. Imagine when this foundation you rely on becomes porous. Similar to a tree trunk eaten away by termites and eventually collapsing, bones are more susceptible to fractures. Not just pain they cause, but also deteriorate one’s quality of life and make him/her in a state of being dependence on others. The worst it can be, osteoporosis  results in death and require treatments that cost dearly. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the risk of osteoporosis early and take proper preventive measures. 

Risk factors of osteoporosis 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoporosis, also known as weak bones, is a condition characterized by decreased bone density, structural damage, and increased bone fragility. Consequently, bone strength decreasing elevates the risk of fractures. Osteoporosis occurs when there is a state of imbalance in the bone remodeling process, where bone resorption surpasses bone formation. In this condition, bones will have excessive breakdown that subsequently causing bone mass, structure, and strengthness, making them brittle and prone to fractures. 

People who are most likely getting osteoporosis are the ones who have these conditions: 

  • Postmenopausal women: Hormonal changes after menopause can result in decreased bone density. 
  • Individuals aged 65 or older: Aging is a primary risk factor for osteoporosis. 
  • Family’s medical history: If there is a family member who has experienced fractures or osteoporosis, you are more likely to have it also. 
  • Previous fractures: If you have had fractures or significant injuries after the age of 40, your risk is getting bigger. 
  • Long-term corticosteroids use: Using these medications for a long period of time (3 consecutive months or more) can elevate the risk. 
  • Underweight: Individuals with low body weight or excessive thinness face more elevated risks. 
  • Calcium and vitamin D deficiency: These nutrients are essential for bone health. 
  • Inadequate or excessive physical activity: Inadequate or excessive levels of physical activity can impact bone density. 
  • Premature menopause: Women who experience premature menopause are at a higher risk. 
  • Other diseases or conditions:  Conditions a person have, such as kidney failure, undergoing dialysis or blood purification, hypothyroidism, or malabsorption issues can also increase the risk. 

Understanding these risk factors enables you to take adequate preventive measures for maintaining bone health. 

Symptoms of osteoporosis 

Osteoporosis is often referred to as the "silent disease" because the gradual loss of bone mass occurs over years without our awareness and showing no accompanying symptoms. Symptoms such as fractures, increasingly hunched spine, reduced height, and back pain are typically emerge in the advanced stages of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, this condition is often overlooked and dismissed as a natural part of the aging process. However, if it is left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to a suffering that will last a lifetime and it is unbearable to imagine of having it.  

That’s why you should know better about osteoporosis, especially if you have risk factors. You can start by taking health examinations to evaluate the condition of your bones. You can avert severe complications from osteoporosis in the future through effective preventive measures. 

Bone health analysis 

Currently, two methods are available to analyze bone health: Bone Mineral Density (BMD) and biochemical marker tests. Although each method has different principles, they complement one another and are essential for obtaining a more comprehensive understanding of bone status. 

Bone Mineral Density (BMD): This method uses specialized X-rays, CT scans, or ultrasonography to measure the density of minerals (such as calcium) in bones. The result of this analysis provide information about the bone density. However, it is important to note that the BMD test cannot predict the state of bone density you will have in the future. 

Biochemical Bone Markers: The method involves the examination of blood samples in a laboratory. It measures the activity of bone formation and resorption, and the balance between the two as well. If bone resorption or breakdown exceeds bone formation, bone density could decrease rapidly and increase the risk of osteoporosis in the future. 

Bone biochemical marker analysis includes N-MID Osteocalcin and C-Tx (C-Telopeptide). N-MID Osteocalcin is a component of osteocalcin, a protein produced by osteoblast cells that plays a role in bone formation.  Therefore, the level of N-MID Osteocalcin can be used to evaluate osteoblast activity in bone formation. Meanwhile, the C-Tx (C-Telopeptide) analysis is helpful for measuring bone absorption or breakdown. 

If the result of bone biochemical marker assessment indicates that you have a high risk of osteoporosis, it is strongly advised to consult  a doctor. If it’s required, the doctor will ask you to take a follow-up test such as the bone mineral density (BMD) to determine the density level and condition of the bone as well as to analyze the risk of osteoporosis. 

It is important to note that the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis is not always directly related to a decrease in BMD values. Hence, a combination of BMD tests and bone biochemical markers assessment is necessary for a more accurate diagnosis. 

Let’s proactively prevent osteoporosis by identifying risk factors early, starting a healthy lifestyle (including regular exercise and a balanced diet), and taking regular bone health check-ups. Through these practical measures, we can ensure the resilience and strength of our body’s foundation throughout our lives.