Osteoporosis is a disease that does not normally present any type of discomfort. This is something that at first may seem favourable, but this just makes the disease go unnoticed and only come to light when the first fracture occurs or when a series of these take place.
If we focus on the data, we will really gain a greater awareness of the importance of this disease worldwide:
- Osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million bone fractures a year.
- It is estimated that a total of 200 million women suffer from osteoporosis: that is approximately 1 in every 10 women aged 60 years, 1 in 5 aged 70 years, 2 out of every 5 when the age is 80, and the ratio is 3 in every 5 women who reach the age of 90.
- By combining the population of Europe, the USA and Japan, it is estimated that a total of 75 million people are affected by the disease.
Defining the disease that makes us fragile
In 1993, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined osteoporosis as “a systemic disease characterised by a reduction in bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue that increases its fragility and a consequent increase in risk of fracture.”
Elaborating further on the precise definition of the WHO, we can say that what happens when we suffer from osteoporosis is that our bones reduce their density as a result of tissue loss. This situation results in our bone mass becoming less resistant against potential fractures and to other everyday situations such as weight-bearing.
We must bear in mind that our skeletal system consists of living tissues where bone formation, i.e., generation of new bone, and bone resorption, which leads to the removal of the bone in the worst condition, coexist. If the circle is broken between the two processes and the destruction of old bone exceeds the creation of new bone, then we could be in the presence of osteoporosis.
Why does this disease occur?
In some cases osteoporosis occurs as a side-effect of other diseases. This is known as secondary osteoporosis, which can arise when the patient is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, myeloma, diabetes or hyperthyroidism among other conditions.
In addition, the disease is also associated in certain instances with medicines such as heparin and some corticosteroids. In any case, the problem lies in the difficulty of the specialists when it comes to finding the causes of primary osteoporosis.