Osteoporosis Risk Factors – Musculoskeletal System Example

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"Osteoporosis Risk Factors" is a perfect example of a paper on the musculoskeletal system. Osteoporosis is defined as a disease in which the human bones weak, brittle, and thin bones. As a result, the affected bones become fractured, and this leads to pain, disability, and even death. The weaknesses in the bones are a result of deterioration of the bone tissues (Shuler, et al, 2012). This disease comes about when the normal cycle of bone breakdown and formation gets imbalanced. The first major step in the prevention of this disease is examining if one is exposed to the risk factors that may lead to its occurrence.

This paper highlights the major risk factors and how to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. RISK FACTORS The risk factors for osteoporosis can either be categorized as modifiable or non-modifiable. Although it is impossible to control the non-modifiable factors, strategies may be put in place that allows for the effect of these factors to be reduced. Generally, the following risk factors have been identified to increase the likelihood of osteoporosis disease. Modifiable risk factors Lifestyle These are factors that relate to the way people live, their choices and their attitudes.

For this reason, lifestyle factors can be modified since they involve personal choices and preferences. The first risk factor is alcohol consumption where studies have demonstrated that consuming more than two units of alcohol daily increases the risks of osteoporosis. This applies to both men and women. Research has shown that heavy drinking has a negative effect on body mineral density (BMD), and this leads to the occurrence of osteoporotic fractures. Secondly, smoking has been found to increase the risk of osteoporotic fractures, especially around the hip.

Just like alcohol consumption, smoking can be controlled by the individual since it is a personal choice. The smoke from cigarettes has an effect on the bones since it reduces the mineral density in these bones. This leaves the victim at high risk of the disease. For instance, in research conducted by Anna Jakobsen et al (2012) on the risk factors of osteoporosis in Greenland, smoking was found to be among the chief risk factors. Third, the body mass index (BMI) is also a risk factor for this disease.   This index measures how lean a person is.

The ideal BMI index is between 20 and 25. However, when one’ s BMI drops below 19, then the person is said to be underweight and this is a risk factor for the disease. A low BMI is usually caused by poor nutrition, which greatly affects the health of the bones. This risk factor can be modified since diets can be altered and are a matter of personal choice and preference. In particular, consuming foods less in proteins, calcium, and vitamin D may result in weak bones.

A person is thus at liberty to carefully choose the types and quantities of foods consumed. Fourth, lack of regular exercise can lead to the occurrence of osteoporosis. When bones are given weight and stressed, they respond by becoming stronger in order to bear the added weight and stress (Jakobsen, et al, 2012). This then leads to strong bones and reduces the risk of bone fracture. However, lack of exercise causes the bones to be weak. Since exercising is a matter of personal choice, this risk factor can be modified. Environmental The environmental factors that increase the likelihood of getting osteoporosis are those that cause frequent falls.

This can also be modified if necessary caution is taken to prevent frequent falls. Many falls can be prevented if people are careful in their movements and the surfaces around them.   Some of these include slippery floors, raised unstable surfaces, and extreme winter conditions. Frequent falls increase the chances of sustaining fractures. In addition, apart from the environmental factors, other diseases such as short-sightedness and Alzheimer’ s disease can lead to falls. Non-modifiable risk Factors Genetic The most common genetic risk factor is family history.

Research has shown that there are variations in the human genetic code that expose some people to bone loss (Jakobsen, et al, 2012). Therefore, a person with a family history of osteoporosis is at a higher risk. Age As a person ages, the likelihood of having osteoporosis increases. More than ninety percent of hip fracture cases are reported in people aged 50 years and above. This is mainly attributed to the reduced bone mineral density as people age.

In addition, the elderly are susceptible to falls which may lead t to bone fractures. Gender Although osteoporosis affects both men and women, studies have shown that post-menopausal women are at a high risk of bone loss compared to men (Kanis, 2010). This is attributed to the fact that women produce less estrogen hormone, which helps in bone formation. In addition, due to the changes that occur with menopause, women tend to lose bone faster, and this further increases the risk. Race Different ethnic groups and races show variations when it comes to the likelihood of acquiring the disease.

Studies have revealed that Caucasian and Asian populations are at a greater risk of getting osteoporosis. The differences are a result of the bone structure differences and the rate of bone loss across various races and ethnicities. Other Factors People suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are at a high risk of getting the disease. For such people, the intake of vital nutrients such as calcium is reduced (Ewald, 2012). In addition, the production of hormones such as estrogen is also impaired, and this may lead to bone loss. Persons with a history of previous fractures are at a higher risk of acquiring osteoporosis.

People with a history of previous fractures are likely to have second fractures compared to those with no history of fractures. How to control the modifiable risk factors The probability of getting osteoporosis can be greatly reduced if the modifiable risk factors are controlled. First, the problem of reduced body mass index can be addressed through proper diet and exercise. For instance, in an article by Dan Ewald (2012), the author points out that a proper diet helps to increase muscle mass thereby increasing bone mass.

A proper diet involves eating foods rich in vitamins and proteins. Secondly, smoking and high alcohol intake can be controlled by the affected individual. It is advised that people addicted to smoking and heavy drinking should seek professional help to address the problem. In addition to preventing osteoporosis, reducing alcohol intake and smoking has other health benefits. Thirdly, engaging in regular exercising activities such as skipping, running, jumping, and weight lifting helps to increase body mineral density (BMD) (Kanis, 2010).

The exercises one engages in should be a high impact to stimulate bone formation. Fourth, frequent falls can be prevented by keeping surfaces dry, avoiding running in congested spaces, and using the correct footwear. In addition, elderly persons and the sick are encouraged to use walking sticks to avoid falling. Furthermore, persons with other diseases such as short-sightedness and Alzheimer’ s disease should seek medical help and their movements constantly monitored. Finally, since lack of vitamin D and calcium greatly expose the individual to a high risk of getting osteoporosis, there is a need to consume foods rich in these nutrients (Ewald, 2012).

For instance, the affected individuals are advised to use supplements to boost their mineral levels. Usefulness to healthcare professionals Given that osteoporosis is a common disease, effective management by healthcare professionals is important. To accomplish this, healthcare professionals should be able to assess fracture risk among their patients. The above information can thus be used by these professionals to accomplish this in a number of ways. First, in a healthcare setting where BMD testing can be conducted, the healthcare providers can be in a position to understand the levels of minerals in the patient’ s body, and thereby give the necessary advice to address the problem.

secondly, given that men and women aged 50 years and above are at a higher risk of getting the disease, healthcare providers can thus incorporate osteoporosis testing as part of the primary care for this group of patients (Shuler, et al, 2012). Thirdly, using a patient’ s medical history, healthcare providers are able to examine predisposing factors such as the presence of a previous fracture, anorexia, and bulimia and advice patients accordingly.

As healthcare providers attend to their patients, they are in a position to use the information above on risk factors to understand the changes that occur in their patients. Conclusion Osteoporosis is a common disease and the impact it has on the patient is great. Fortunately, most of the risk factors can be controlled. Smoking, heavy drinking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and frequent falls are among the risk factors that can be controlled. Therefore, if attention is given to these factors, osteoporosis cases can be greatly reduced worldwide.


Ewald, D (2012). Osteoporosis: Prevention and Detection in general practice. Australian Family Physician, 41(3): pp. 104-108.

Jakobsen, A et al (2012). Clinical risk factors for osteoporosis are common among elderly people in Nuuk, Greenland. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 72. pp. 1-8.

Kanis, J. A (2010). Osteoporosis. Journal of Medical Sciences; 3(3): 124-130

Shuler, F. D. et al (2012). Understanding the Burden of Osteoporosis and Use of the World Health Organization FRAX. Orthopedics, 35(9).pp. 798-805 DOI: 10.3928/01477447- 20120822-12

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