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When the Bones become Fragile...

Dr. Rajiv Sood

Homoeopathic therapists are able to educate the public in the importance of a healthy lifestyle, explain the significance of our self healing capacity and bring about the realisation that health care is much more about health promotion than the alleviation of the symptoms of the disease. Thus homoeopathy is an important holistic approach of treatment of geriatric problems as promotion of health is what is needed in old age.

The incidence of musculoskeletal disorders in elderly people increases with age. The most common disorders being osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid disease, osteomalacia and Paget's disease.

Osteoporosis is defined as a decrease in the absolute amount of bone, leading to fractures following minimal trauma. As we age, bone mass is lost. This loss is more severe in women who lose 60% of their trabecular bone and 35% of their cortical bone. Osteoporosis results in fractures of the vertebrae, hip and distal forearm. One third of women over the age of 65 having vertebral fractures. Osteoporosis is caused by immobility, endocrine disorders (thyrotoxicosis), alcohol, drugs (heparin, steroids) and excessive ethanol intake. The patient is usually symptom free until a fracture occurs. Signs include deformity and loss of height in vertebral fractures.

Early osteoporosis usually causes no symptoms. As the disorder progresses there may be gradually increasing joint and muscle aches because the weakened bones are less able to support weight and movements but often the first sign of osteoporosis is a fracture. The commonest sites of fracture due to osteoporosis are the hip, upper arm and wrist. Fractures in the spine are often insidious where small areas in the vertebral column collapse from time to time resulting in the dowager's hump so common in elderly women. Vertebral fractures can also occur very suddenly causing severe pain that radiates around the trunk. Spinal fractures cannot be straightened and the bone sets in its crushed position, leaving the spine permanently curved and resulting in loss of height with pain and disability from distortion of posture.

Risk Factors for OsteoporosisEndogenous

  • Femal
  • Asian
  • Small stature
  • Thin physique
  • Family history
  • Nulliparity
  • Early menopause
  • Advanced age
  • Low calcium intake
  • Reduced physical activity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Surgical menopause
  • Steroid therapy
This is initially on radiography although Dexa scans are able to quantify bone loss. There are no characteristic biochemical abnormalities of osteoporosis. Densitometry gives an accurate assessment of bone density and can detect early osteoporosis before x ray changes can be seen.

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