Osteoporosis The Physiology Pathology Prevalence Complications Effects Biology Essay

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The bones are important components which leverage and provide support to the human body. Bones are composed of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Bones generally hold 99% of the body’s calcium. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture, particularly of the hip, spine and wrist. Two essential cells are involved in the daily turnover of the bone, osteoblast cells and osteoclast cells. Over activity of the osteoclast cell leads to osteoporosis. There are two types of osteoporosis, primary (type 1 and type 2) and secondary osteoporosis.

The pathology of the condition

There is no single cause of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when there is a discrepancy between new bone formation and old bone restoration. The body may fail to form enough new bone, or too much old bone may be reabsorbed, or both occur. There are two essential minerals needed for normal bone formation, these are calcium and phosphate. Throughout adolescence, the body uses these minerals to produce bones. Calcium is an essential mineral for proper functioning of the brain, heart and other organs. To maintain such critical organs functioning, the body reabsorbs calcium that is stored in the bones to maintain blood calcium levels (Normal blood calcium levels usually range between 8.5 and 10.5 mg/dL (milligrams of calcium per deciliter of blood). Ionized calcium typically ranges from about 4.6 to 5.3 mg/dL). If calcium intake is not sufficient or if the body does not absorb enough calcium from the everyday diet, bone production and bone tissue may suffer. This action will make the bones become weaker, resulting in brittle and fragile bones that can break easily.

Typically, the loss of bone occurs over an extended period of years. A person can often sustain a fracture before becoming aware that the disease is present and by that time, the disease may be in its advanced stages and damage may be serious.

Another cause of osteoporosis is a lack of certain hormones, particularly estrogen in women and androgen in men. Menopause is accompanied by lower estrogen levels and increases a woman's risk for osteoporosis. Women are at a greater risk than men, especially women who are thin or have a small skeleton, as well as those of advanced age.

Epidemiology - Prevalence

In the United States, nearly 10 million people already have osteoporosis. Another 18 million people have low bone mass that places them at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis. As our population ages, these numbers will increase. About 80% of those with osteoporosis are women. Also, as many as 2 million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis. One in four women over the age of 50 has osteoporosis. At least one in eight men over 50 also has the disease. However, the disease can strike at any age.

Symptoms or complications

In the early stages of the disease, osteoporosis may cause no symptoms. Later, it may cause dull pain in the bones, joints or muscles, particularly low back pain or neck pain. As time passes, sharp pains may come on suddenly. The pain might not spread to other areas but activity that puts weight on the area might make the pain worsen.

Future complications of the disease

Osteoporosis complications include both despair and mortality. Some who suffer from osteoporosis also suffer from a significant amount of pain, decrease in quality of life, and for some even permanent disability. Often times for those who suffer from any fracture caused by osteoporosis may never fully recover. Hip fractures are a common complication of osteoporosis and many who suffer a hip fracture related to osteoporosis find themselves requiring long-term nursing home care. Kyphosis is a serious osteoporosis complication in which vertebral fractures ultimately lead to spinal deformity which can cause the hunchback known as kyphosis. With kyphosis, the internal organs become compressed due to the deformity which can lead to breathing difficulties. Osteoporosis must be violently managed in hopes of avoiding future long-term complications. The serious complications associated with osteoporosis are ones which can severely alter your daily life. Seeking medical care for osteoporosis is a decision one must make if they intend to regain control of your life and hope to ever stop the progression of osteoporosis complications.

Effect of lifestyle on treatment/management/prevention of the

Medical Treatment

Treatment for osteoporosis focuses on slowing down or stopping the mineral loss, increasing bone density, preventing bone fractures, and controlling the pain associated with the disease. The goal of treatment is to prevent fractures.


Young adults should be encouraged to achieve normal peak bone mass by getting enough calcium (1,000 mg daily) in their diet, performing weight-bearing exercise such as walking or aerobics, and maintaining normal body weight. Drinking milk or calcium-fortified orange juice and eating foods high in calcium such as salmon will help maintain diet high in calcium.


Lifestyle modification should also be incorporated into your treatment. Regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of bone fractures associated with osteoporosis. Studies show that exercises requiring muscle to pull on bones causes the bones to retain, and perhaps even gain, density. Some of the recommended exercises include weight-bearing exercise, riding stationary bicycles, using rowing machines, walking, and jogging.

Other treatments

According to Jeffery Chung, a licensed acupuncture practician, osteoporosis in traditional Chinese medicine is related to the kidney. For his treatments Jeffery uses herbs that are used to strengthen the kidney system along with needle treatment. The kidney's energy in the body is located in the low back, and with herbs it helps eradicate pain and increase the bones density. Herbs are used to target the kidneys because the kidneys make marrow and the marrow makes the bones. The traditional medical theory states that the kidneys are in charge of the bones, dominate the growth of marrow and promote the general essence and energy believed to be responsible for health and vitality throughout the body. The goal of acupuncture is to prevent osteoporosis before it attacks. Acupuncture can also help strengthen muscles to help support body weight, causing less pressure on the bones. Acupuncture also helps patients who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis by easing pain.

Summary and conclusion