Check your back pain – what are the signs of osteoporosis risk? Know it so you can prevent it.

Do you suffer from back pain when sitting for a long time, exercising, or lifting heavy objects? If so, don't just dismiss it as normal pain or muscle inflammation. It could be a sign of bone strength deterioration that may lead to osteoporosis. As we care about you, we would like to share with you some valuable information about osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis – a silent threat to watch for

Osteoporosis is caused by osteoblast and osteoclast imbalance, causing bone breakdown instead of bone formation. Calcium is a vital component of the bone building process. Imbalance between the two types of cells either stems from insufficient calcium intake or bone cell dysfunction. In both cases, it leads to reduced bone density, leaving the bones thinner, more brittle and fragile. Osteoporosis usually develops gradually without our knowledge. It is most common in the spine, hips, or wrists but can also occur in other bones. The condition is a major cause of fractures and spinal deformities which greatly affect the quality of life. That’s why we need to be careful.

Causes and risk factors for osteoporosis

The main cause of osteoporosis is the hormonal changes that take place as we age. As we get to 50, our bones have already thinned by 1-3%. The thinning is especially marked in menopausal women and women who have had ovarian removal surgery before the age of 45. This is due to a lack of estrogen, a hormone that aids the absorption of calcium and inhibits bone breakdown.

Risk factors for osteoporosis are:

  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Thyroid disease, liver disease, diabetes, digestive disorder or adrenal gland-related disease
  • Rapid weight loss from exercise or dieting
  • Wearing a splint for a long time or suffering from paralysis
  • Overdosing steroids
  • Vitamin D or calcium deficiency
  • Lack of exercise
  • Regular consumption of alcohol or high-caffeinated beverages
  • Heavy smoking

Osteoporosis is preventable

Early stage osteoporosis is asymptomatic. However, there are early signs that may indicate you are at risk of osteoporosis such as chronic back pain, humpback, and height reduction of 3 centimeters or more. When seeking treatment, it is recommended to choose a hospital that offers bone mineral density (BMD) measurement with a special radiotherapy device that is painless and can be used to examine all parts of the bone. The bone areas cited as benchmarks by the World Health Organization (WHO) are the lumbar spine and hip which are used to give a numerical value indicating standard deviation. X-rays indicating osteoporosis show faded bone tissue and widened bone cavities. The thickness of the bone surface is reduced and rough streaking is apparent. Edges of the bone are clearly visible as white lines. In some cases, fractures or spinal collapse may be seen.

Together with BMD measurement, osteoporosis can be prevented by such simple methods as eating a balanced diet that includes the five food groups, and maintaining sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D by getting enough sunlight or taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. Drinking milk is another option: one glass of milk contains 100 IU of vitamin D and up to 300 milligrams of calcium. You should also exercise and refrain from smoking. It is also always a good idea to get an annual health check-up. That way you will not only know your position relative to potential osteoporosis but also get an overview of your overall health.


• Bangkok Hospital
• Bumrungrad Hospital
• Paolo Hospital
• Phyathai Hospital
• Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University