While it’s considered to affect only the elderly, osteoporosis is also quite prevalent in post-menopausal women due to the low levels of estrogen in their body. It is estimated that by the year 2020, more than one in two Americans over the age of 50 years will develop osteoporosis. [1]  In the United States alone, more than 40 million people are at risk of developing or have already developed osteoporosis. [2]

It’s true that some risk factors such as being deficient in vitamin D and menopause can automatically put you at a higher risk for osteoporosis.  However, you do not have to wait for age to take care and get treatment for osteoporosis. It would be a better idea to keep an eye on some early warning signs that will help you get timely care and intervention and might also help in preventing it.

On World Osteoporosis Day (October 20), here are four early signs that point to this condition.

1. Brittle Fingernails
A silent pointer towards an impending condition of osteoporosis is the health of your nails. If you often notice your fingernails being too weak or brittle, that tear off at the slightest pressure and fail to stay in shape, it could be due to osteoporosis.

However, it is also important to note that regular gardening, digging or spending a lot of time in the water could also make your fingernails brittle. [2]

2. Receding Gums
Bone loss can often be the cause of receding gums, as when the jawline starts losing its bone mass, the gums may look as if they are receding. In the case of women, bone loss is connected to low bone density, especially in areas such as the lumbar spine. [3]

3. Pain In The Bones & Muscles
An ache in your bones and muscles is not always a sign of older age or exhaustion, but could also point towards osteoporosis. If you are deficient in vitamin D, which is very important for the health of your bones, it could cause pain in your bones and muscles and may be an early sign. [4]

4. Stooping
Stooping, poor posture, and a gradual reduction in height are all warning signs that point to osteoporosis. Poor posture can often happen as a result of weakness in the muscles that lie around your spine, and as your muscles are connected to your bones in the way they function, it could indicate a gradual loss in bone mass as well. [5]

Fact Check [1,2]

  • Almost 80 percent of Americans who suffer from osteoporosis are women.
  • A fracture is one of the earliest signs of osteoporosis.
  • The most common areas that suffer a fracture as a result of osteoporosis are the hip, wrist or spine.
  • In the United States, about 10 million people above the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis in the hip.

When You Should Get Screened
Here’s what you should take into consideration for scheduling an osteoporosis screening. [6,7]

  • If you have a family history of osteoporosis
  • If you are over 65 years of age
  • If you are in your postmenopausal years
  • If you have recently suffered a fracture
  • If you have low body weight

Image Source: Shutterstock

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Diseases & Conditions here.

Read More:
Relieve It With A Herb: Horsetail For Osteoporosis
4 Incredible Herbs That Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteopenia: Brittle Bones & How You Can Keep Them Healthy
6 Superfoods To Keep Your Bones Healthy & Prevent Osteoporosis

Reference links:

1. Bone health and osteoporosis: A report of the surgeon general. Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004. 4, The Frequency of Bone Disease. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45515/ (Accessed 29 Sep 2015)

2. Preventing and treating brittle bones and osteoporosis. Site https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/winter11/articles/winter11pg11.html (Accessed 29 Sep 2015)

3. Oral health and bone disease. Site http://niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Oral_Health/oral_health_bone_disease.pdf (Accessed 29 Sep 2015)

4. The use of calcium and vitamin D in the management of osteoporosis. Sunyecz, John A. “The Use of Calcium and Vitamin D in the Management of Osteoporosis.” Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management 4.4 (2008): 827–836. Print. (Accessed 29 Sep 2015)

5. Height loss in women caused by vertebral fractures and osteoporosis. 1: Eggertsen R, Mellström D. Height loss in women caused by vertebral fractures and osteoporosis. Ups J Med Sci. 2007;112(2):213-9. PubMed PMID: 17578821. (Accessed 29 Sep 2015)

6. Genomics, family history and osteoporosis. Site http://www.cdc.gov/features/osteoporosis/index.html (Accessed 29 Sep 2015)

7. 1 in 4 senior women in U.S. has osteoporosis. Site https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_154101.html (Accessed 29 Sep 2015)