Lesser-known signs of weak and unhealthy bones you shouldn’t ignore

We all are worried about our bones growing weak and unhealthy as we age, but we may not exactly know the cause behind it. The signs of weak bones appear very late and by that time the damage is already done. Bones are a living tissue and are continuously changing depending on the availability of nutrients and also get affected by certain health conditions. (Also read: Want healthy bones and joints in old age? Adopt these key lifestyle changes)

It is important to take care of your bones right from your childhood as they accumulate minerals, especially calcium till about 25 years of age. So, when we are relatively younger, our body both reabsorbs old bones and create new bones and our entire skeleton gets replaced every 10 years, but when we get older the process gets slow and old bones are reabsorbed more than creation of new bones.

“Bone is like a bank that accumulates minerals (mainly calcium) right from childhood till about 25 years of age. From age 35 years onwards, bones have a net-net loss, although it is gradual. Hence most people will start feeling the symptoms of weak bones commonly after 30 to 35 years of age when it is already substantial,” says Dr Manish Kothari, Consultant, Orthopaedic Spine Specialist.

Weak bones are diagnosed much later in life and therefore, it becomes important that we should be able to understand how to identify the symptoms when the bones are ailing.

Dr Kothari shares early signs of weak bones.

No signs: Weak bones (osteoporosis in medical terminology) commonly has no signs that a person can pick up or identify. Remember, osteoporosis is a silent disease and it is best prevented than treated.

Major fracture but a simple fall: When the bones are weak, even a simple fall can cause major fracture. This is common in wrists, spine and hips frequently leading to a surgical fixation. But one may not realise that if the bone health was taken care of then the fracture would not have occurred in the first place. Hence, prevention is better than cure cannot be more true than in this case.

Loss of muscle bulk: Loss of muscle mass is called sarcopenia. This is a common but often missed sign in osteoporosis. Muscle bulk gets silently replaced with fat and the arms and legs start to appear flabby. Important to remember here is that very thin individuals are more at risk of osteoporosis than obese individuals.

Vague body pains: Deficiency of the raw materials for the bones can cause vague body pains, which is frequently misjudged. The basic raw materials for the bones include minerals (calcium), proteins and vitamins. Indian diet is notoriously poor in both proteins and calcium. Sedentary lifestyle is also a trigger for bones to become weak as there is not stimulus for new bone formation.

Neglect during other major diseases: When a patient is suffering from other major diseases like diabetes, thyroid, arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, kidney or liver diseases etc, the bone health is often neglected. Most major ailments will slowly affect the bone density and gradually make the bones weak. A simple example is of chronic acidity where people take antacids like peanuts. Long term use of antacids increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

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