Osteoporosis, which translates to “porous bone,” is a condition in which bones become weak, brittle, and prone to fracture. It occurs when new bone is not created at a rate that matches the normal rate of bone loss. Osteoporosis can affect anyone, but is most common in white and Asian women past the age of menopause. Women with small frames or a family history of the disease are also at higher risk.
When bone loss is severe, even minor stresses such as everyday movement or coughing can cause a fracture. The most common locations of bone breaks from osteoporosis are the hip, wrist, and spine. In addition, fractures that occur in a person with osteoporosis often heal slowly, as the body cannot create new bone rapidly enough to repair the break.
Osteoporosis does not initially cause any symptoms, so bone loss may go unchecked for some time. Once bones are in a more weak state, symptoms may include:
Back pain from an injured vertebra
Loss of height or stooped posture
Fractures that occur too easily
Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a simple X-ray, usually checking the hips and/or back. Women over the age of 50 who have already gone through menopause, with a family history of the disease, or with a history of taking corticosteroids are encouraged to check with their doctors about screening.
Several pharmaceutical medications are available to treat osteoporosis, but Chinese medicine is an excellent companion therapy to increase bone density. A Chinese medical diagnosis focuses on the underlying causes for the osteoporosis. For many women, hormonal changes, thyroid imbalance, and nutritional deficiencies can play a big role in bone loss.
Treatment strategies are tailored to each individual, but generally focus on regular acupuncture treatment to help the body build new bone, Chinese herbal medicine to regulate any hormonal or thyroid components, and nutritional recommendations to optimally nourish the body and increase calcium levels. Because moderate exercise also helps build strong bone, our women’s health specialists may also suggest ways to make safe, healthy activity a regular part of your routine.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, have several risk factors, or have a strong family tendency toward the condition, contact TCRA to learn more about how you can prevent or treat bone loss.