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Osteoporosis and Tips to Relieve Joint Pain

Written by Elizabeth Carrollton
 

Osteoporosis is a very common condition, especially in women, in which the bones become less dense, lose strength and become prone to breakage. Loss of height and severe back pain can occur, as bones in the spine compress, and deterioration in bones that form the hip joints can make walking difficult and painful. Over time, hip damage from osteoporosis can cause disability, making bearing weight on the hip impossible — a situation that often leads to hip replacement.

Osteoporosis Facts

Bones are constantly growing and changing in a process called bone remodeling. Old bone cells die and new ones are added in a cycle that is meant to build and maintain strong, healthy bones. Early in life, new bone cell production easily out-paces bone loss, making bones larger and heavier. That process slows after peak bone mass is reached in your thirties, with bone loss gradually beginning to out-pace the production of new bone tissue. In osteoporosis, accelerated bone loss makes bones weak and brittle.

Osteoporosis typically has no symptoms until unexplained fractures occur. A small bump or fall can cause vertebrae to collapse, causing a person to lose height or the back to become stooped, and wrist and hip fractures are common. Hip fractures are often the most debilitating, requiring surgical repair or hip replacement. Joint deterioration often occurs, as weakened bones alter joint function, causing excessive wear, inflammation and chronic pain.

Treating Joint Pain

Among the most common areas for joint pain to occur with osteoporosis are the back and hips. Compression fractures and poor joint alignment are frequently the issue with back pain, and weak muscles surrounding joints can be the cause of pain in the back and hip joints or can worsen it. Regular exercise, preferably under the supervision of a physical therapist, can aid in alleviating that pain, strengthening muscles for better joint support and function.

A variety of medications can reduce joint pain due to osteoporosis. Over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen are often the first drugs suggested by doctors. If they aren't strong enough to alleviate joint pain, narcotic pain relievers may be used for acute pain, while chronic pain may be treated with prescription osteoporosis medications, such as Miacalcin, Calcimar, or Fortical.

Heat and cold can offer effective joint pain relief. A warm bath or hot-pack can soothe stiff, sore muscles. An ice pack, applied to an inflamed and painful joint, can reduce swelling and numb the pain. It is important to remember to visit a doctor regularly, to receive medical advice and discuss the best option for you.

Hip Replacement

When osteoporosis causes loss of hip function due to joint deterioration or hip fracture, hip replacement can be a good option to alleviate hip pain and restore mobility. However, researching implant options is essential, since faulty hip implants have been an issue recently. The problems have primarily involved metal-on-metal implants, with several recalled due to high failure and complication rates. Metallosis is a serious issue that has been associated with hip implants and which is caused by the buildup of metal debris from the implant in the soft muscle tissues. In most cases, this leads to inflammation, pain, tissue death and bone loss in the hip. More hip damage is the last thing you need, therefore avoiding metal-on-metal implants may be very wise.

Author Bio: Elizabeth Carrollton:
She uses her background in journalism to write for DrugWatch.com. She is dedicated to educating the public about medical safety and important decisions that can impact a person’s health and life. Much of her work at Drugwatch includes editorials pertaining to hip replacements and alternatives to relieve pain, as well as complications and hip replacement lawsuit information.

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