If you are currently suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome, then you probably spend a lot of your time worrying about your fibromyalgia symptoms, including widespread pain, chronic fatigue, and sleep difficulties. Unfortunately, for people with fibromyalgia there is also another complication that you need to contend with - osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes your bones to become weak and brittle. This can leave you at risk for multiple fractures and even permanent disability. A large percentage of fibromyalgia patients develop osteoporosis, so it is a good idea to find out more about the disease and how it can be treated.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become thin and brittle. This leaves you at a high risk of developing bone fractures or breaks that could end up causing you even more pain and disability. As you grow, you gradually lose bone mass throughout your body. This bone mass is typically replaced, in order to keep you healthy and strong. As you age though, bone replacement can't keep up with bone loss. Osteoporosis only adds to this bone loss, increasing the likelihood that you will suffer from painful fractures in areas like your hip, wrists, and spine. Osteoporosis does get worse over time, so it is essential that you find appropriate treatment from your health care provider.
Fibromyalgia and Osteoporosis
Fibromyalgia seems to be associated with osteoporosis. A large percentage of fibromyalgia patients suffer from decreased bone mass, leading to bone fractures. A variety of studies have been performed on this topic. In these studies, Fibromyalgia sufferers show lower-than-normal bone mass in their necks, spinal columns, and hips. This is particularly true if you have fibromyalgia and are between the ages of 51 and 60.
It is thought that fibromyalgia sufferers get osteoporosis because of reduced growth hormones. Fibromyalgia syndrome suppresses the production of growth hormone, thus limiting the production of bone. As a result, bones become very fragile and osteoporotic.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis usually develops as a result of a variety of factors. The causes of osteoporosis include:
- calcium deficiency, due to poor diet
- old age
- loss of estrogen, due to menopause, period irregularities, or eating disorders
- certain diseases, including Cushing's Syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
Who Gets Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis currently affects about 40 million Americans. It can affect both men and women, though women are much more likely to develop the disease because of the role that estrogen plays in bone formation. Certain factors can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, including:
- being over the age of 50
- having family members who have had osteoporosis
- being a smoker
- being of non-Hispanic Caucasian or Asian descent
- taking certain drugs, such as prednisone and certain anticonvulsants
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Unfortunately, symptoms of osteoporosis are difficult to detect in its early stages. This is why osteoporosis is often referred to as "the silent disease". Most people generally don't realize that they have osteoporosis until they suffer from a break or fracture. Severe osteoporosis is generally associated with:
- fractures of the wrist, vertebrae, or hip
- repeated fractures
- neck pain or back pain
- tender bones
- decreased height
- poor posture
Osteoporosis can be treated in an effort to reduce further bone loss or to encourage bone growth. Treatment is recommended for sufferers in order to increase mobility, comfort, and prevent further fractures. Treatment for osteoporosis includes:
Exercise: Exercise can strengthen the muscles and increase bone mass. Weight-
bearing exercise like walking and jogging are recommended.
Calcium Replacement: Calcium is necessary to bone health. Calcium supplements can be given to encourage bone formation and increase bone strength.
Medications: There is a wide variety of medication available to treat osteoporosis. Some commonly used medications are:
- estrogen replacement therapy
- calcitonin, to prevent fractures
- bisphosphonates, to slow bone loss
- teriparatide, to stimulate bone formation