Senile osteoporosis, also known as secondary (Type 2) osteoporosis, occurs when there is a reduction in bone density in aging people. It usually affects those aged 70 years old and above, with occurrences twice as prevalent in women. It differs from primary osteoporosis in that it is the result of other medical conditions.
What does senile osteoporosis mean?
Senile osteoporosis is recognized as a geriatric syndrome that occurs more frequently due to advanced age as well as greater demands placed on the bones themselves. It is a calcium deficiency whereby fractures can occur throughout the bone structure of the body. This includes fractures of the hip, the proximal humerus, the tibia, and the pelvis.
What are the causes and risk factors of senile osteoporosis?
There are many risk factors for senile osteoporosis. With age comes a decrease in bone formation, reduced adrenal function, and diminished intestinal calcium abortion. These all contribute to senile osteoporosis. Diseases and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, malabsorption syndromes, hypogonadism, hyperparathyroidism (SHPT), chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and neurological disorders can also contribute to increased risk of bone loss.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase the likelihood that you will develop osteoporosis. Being a woman places you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because the reduction in estrogen levels during menopause causes bones to lose calcium and other minerals more quickly.
Having a family history of osteoporosis is also a risk factor, as low bone density can be the result of genetics. It is important to understand your calcium and vitamin D levels—those who consume less than the 1000 to 1300 mg of calcium per day (depending on age group) are at a higher risk. Also, a lack of sunlight will cause a deficiency of vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium.
Several lifestyle factors can also play a role in developing senile osteoporosis such as obesity, inactivity, smoking, and excessive drinking.
What are the symptoms of senile osteoporosis?
The most common symptom of senile osteoporosis is a sharp or chronic pain in the lower back. The pain tends to radiate outward, with greater pain occurring from standing for long periods of time.
Another potential symptom is the loss of height. There can also be an occurrence of dowager’s hump, whereby a hump appears on the back and the ribcage is deformed. These changes to the body can bring about discomfort when breathing.
Major symptoms of senile osteoporosis may not be felt until bone fractures occur. These fractures, usually occurring in the hip or spine area, may also occur due to trauma, like after a fall.
Complications and diagnosis of senile osteoporosis
There are a number of complications that can occur due to senile osteoporosis. If there are vertebral fractures, there can be a decrease in range of motion, inactivity, lung disorders, constipation, compression of abdominal organs, deep venous thrombosis, and an increase in the risk of future vertebral compression fractures.
If there are fractures of the hip that occur due to senile osteoporosis, the situation may be even more grave: half of those who endure a hip fracture lose their independence, as the condition causes prolonged immobility. Complications include bedsores, urinary tract infection, blood clots, pneumonia, and loss of muscle mass.
Ultimately, death can occur as a result of complications that follow a vertebral or hip fracture. This makes early diagnosis and treatment of senile osteoporosis even more critical.
Diagnosing senile osteoporosis
The best test to check for senile osteoporosis is a bone mineral density (BMD) test. This can be done with a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) machine. There is also a calculator, known as a FRAX tool, that can estimate the 10-year risk of hip, wrist, shoulder, or spine fracture.
X-rays, CT (computerized tomography) scans, and ultrasounds can also be utilized to detect depleted bone density. However, senile osteoporosis is usually only diagnosed when there has been a bone fracture.
During treatment for osteoporosis, blood and urine tests can reveal markers such as enzymes and proteins that will allow for increased understanding of how the disease is affecting your body.
Senile osteoporosis treatment
Maintaining strong, healthy bones is a lifelong task that starts at a young age. A lifetime spent performing weight-bearing exercises and maintaining a healthy diet will pay off for your bone health. Unhealthy habits like alcoholism, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle will diminish your resilience to a disease like senile osteoporosis.
If you are already suffering from senile osteoporosis, there are options for you to utilize that can aid in maintaining bone mass. These include taking calcium, magnesium, zinc, fluoride, and vitamin D to grow new bone; hormone replacement medications for women; and bisphosphonates.
There are weight-bearing exercises that are ideal for those afflicted by osteoporosis because they strengthen bones and increase bone mass. Weight-bearing exercises help to improve balance, coordination, and overall strength. High-impact examples include jogging, running, stair climbing, dancing, and aerobics.
If your osteoporosis is more severe, or you want to start light, you can consider more low-impact weight-bearing exercises. These include walking, low speeds on a treadmill, or using an elliptical machine.
Senile osteoporosis can become a very serious condition that limits mobility and can ultimately cause death. That is why it is so important to maintain the skeletal structure through a combination of weight-bearing exercise, healthy lifestyle habits, and taking the right supplements or hormones. If you are at risk of developing osteoporosis, consider talking to your physician about getting a bone mineral density scans.
Related: Osteoporosis: Causes, symptoms, diagnostic tests, and how to treat