Osteoporosis – a major public health issue
Osteoporosis, which is a common metabolic skeletal disease among the ageing population involves decreased bone mass and deteriorating bone quality. The disease has been recognized by several countries as a major public health issue with the alarming increase in the cases of osteoporosis fractures. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, currently, 200 million people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis. Furthermore, it reveals that 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 years and 1 in 5 men will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime.
Why does osteoporosis need to be taken seriously? When one suffers osteoporosis, the renewal of their bone tissue renewal becomes impaired. Consequently, bones, over the period of time tend to grow weak and brittle. This is worrisome as bones can become so brittle that they become extremely susceptible to fractures – a small fall or even mild stresses like bending or coughing can result in a fracture. The hip, wrist and the spine become especially vulnerable.
Recent breakthrough thinking – breaking myths
While it is true that osteoporosis assails those ageing or the aged, the popular thinking that sees it as a natural part of growing old or menopause in women is hugely erroneous. Recent researches in medical science are increasingly pinpointing psychological factors to be the main culprit behind the disease. As a risk factor, psychological stress essentially signals certain pathways that gradually lead bone health to decline.
In the early stages of osteoporosis, the body typically does not display any symptoms. However, as the bones get further weakened, particular signs and symptoms emerge that include. Mayo Clinic outlines the following as the symptoms of osteoporosis:
● Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
● Loss of height over time
● A stooped posture
● A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected
Stress and osteoporosis
Geriatric psychology in recent times has garnered much attention and brought into focus a host of issues that adversely impact the psychological health of the ageing population. As a person grows older, one of the most debilitating feelings that they encounter are those related to inadequacy, powerlessness and helplessness. After menopause, women also experience a sense of loss in their feminine worth due to the loss in fertility. The resulting emotions are mistakenly and overwhelmingly read as – “I am disposable’. This, in a way, natural to happen. However, they need to be tackled effectively before their deleterious effect literally can run bone deep.
The emotional undercurrent of undervaluation is strong among the elderly, especially those who have been bedridden for a long time, and in menopausal women. Perennial and uncontrolled prevalence of undervaluation create tension which in turn create conditions for osteoporosis to develop. The feelings can be heard commonly voiced in statements such as “I am not worth anything. I am getting old and disposable.” To accentuate matters the afflicted believes that neither do they deserve support for their ‘useless’ life.
Menopausal women who are especially vulnerable to osteoporosis need to re-evaluate and redefine their lives and seek ways out to make their lives worthwhile. Hebrews describe a woman reaching 50 as an event of jubilee and happiness. The women who realize this, indeed, would be spared of developing osteoporosis.
Make no bones
In the tone of negative emotions
Your bones suffer
Exercise, eat well and bask in sun
But most of all
Don’t lie to yourself
That ageing makes you incapable
Ageing is natural
But with it, osteoporosis isn’t
The scientific explanation
During the 1990s medical science experts actively explored the relationship between depression and osteoporosis. Through research and studies, it was discovered that chronic psychological stress produced certain hormones and brain chemicals that harmed the bones, reducing their density. A 2007 issue of Harvard Women’s Health revealed that those above 50 taking anti-depressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) suffered double the rate of fracture than those who did not.
So, how exactly does stress wreck our bones, whether we are elderly or not? It is a known medical fact that the Central Nervous System (CNS), especially the hypothalamus plays a critical role in regulating bone metabolism. However, stress weakens the functioning of CNS by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, sympathetic nervous system, and other endocrine and immune factors. The secretion of the gonadal hormone is hampered, eventually inhibiting the process of the new bone formation while additionally, reducing the existing bone mass.
Establishing the relationship between emotions and bone health, Prof. Bab of the Hebrew University observed that “we have developed a new area of research that we call ‘neuro-psycho-osteology,’ which deals with the connection between the brain, mental states and the skeleton.”
The permanent cure – Release the toxic emotions
Exercise, supplements of vitamin D3 and calcium are rightly recommended by physicians to make bones healthier and stronger. However, their effect cannot be realized unless the root cause which is emotional is not addressed and uprooted.
The faulty cognition related to and causative factor of osteoporosis can be rectified in the state of deep stillness. In stillness when the negative energies born out of stress get released from the body, the afflicted automatically begin to see themselves in a positive light. As their misconceptions dissolve, they start to see themselves, their health and body as precious gifts of divine.
Its important to realize that all symptoms are basically attempts by the intelligence of the body for you to be you, truly be you.To be the unique and weird being that you are. To be the gift that you are. Listening is the key.