Porous bone disease on rise in Chennai, says doctor

Chennai: A recent study conducted across the world shows that every third woman out of five and one in five men after 50 years of age are diagnosed with the bone-thinning disease – osteoporosis. Experts state that the condition is also becoming common in the metropolitan city.

On account of World Osteoporosis Day observed today, Parvathy Hospital, consultant rheumatologist, Dr C Balaji, shares with News Today how patients with rheumatological conditions are at risk of developing bone-related ailments.

“Though there has not been a study conducted specifically in Chennai, the incidence of porous bone is on the rise. It is a silent disease where the patient does not experience any severe ailments. Owing to this, prevalence of the condition is underestimated all over the world. There have been cases where many people have died without even knowing that they had osteoporosis,” says Dr Balaji.

The ailment is characterised by loss of bone density that causes fragility and fractures the hip, spine, wrist and other joints.

Traditionally, osteoporosis affects women post menopause as they experience a fall in their estrogen levels. Doctors say that the hormone is essential to prevent bones from thinning with age.

On the predominance among male population, Dr Balaji says, “The condition is also common among them but it affects them 5 to 10 years later than women. However, it has to be noted that owing to several changes in habit such as smoking, alcohol consumption, self-medication and sedentary lifestyle, it has started affecting people of younger age. The youngest patient I’ve had is a 25-year-old.”

He further says that patients with rheumatological diseases are at risk of developing osteoporosis. “Rheumatic diseases are auto-immune conditions that cause inflammation which will aggravate the bone loss, which is osteoporosis. A few examples are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Patients with such conditions are prone to get affected by osteoporosis at a much younger age than normal humans,” Dr Balaji says.

Also, patients with rheumatological diseases take steroids which, again, effects the bone health, he adds.

“Many fail to consult a rheumatologist when they are affected with auto-immune ailments. Forget consultation, they do not prioritise rheumatology branch of healthcare like cardiology or pulmonology. When patients have arthritis, they either consult a general physician or orthopedician, little do they know that they might have auto-immune conditions,” states the doctor.

“A rheumatologist will assess and identify patients who are at risk of osteoporosis depending on their lifestyle and drug usage. Based on a list of pointers, we score them and determine how susceptible they are to bone-related diseases,” he adds.

Though treating auto-immune diseases has side-effects, Dr Balaji opines that it can be minimised if a rheumatologist treats and lessens the probability of being prone to other conditions.

Pain, swelling and stiffness in single or multiple joints are a few of the symptoms which indicate that people should consider consulting a rheumatologist to avoid further complications.

“When someone’s routine activities are being affected due to these signs and excessive fatigue, it indicates that they are developing auto-immune diseases,”


How to keep osteoporosis at bay
Experts suggest that regular consumption of calcium and Vitamin D, exercising every day and exposing oneself to sunlight can reduce the probability of bone health deteriorating.

Bhavani Prabhakar