If you're a male younger than 45 years of age, it's important that you maintain good bone health and have your bones checked regularly by a doctor. Conditions like osteoarthritis (OA) can even strike men before they reach 45 years of age. Men who have osteoporosis, or reduced bone density, are even more at risk for OA. Here are more things to know about osteoarthritis and osteoporosis in men, and what you might do to effectively treat both conditions if you have them.
Osteoarthritis affects the bones, cartilage, ligaments, and synovium (lining) of your joints. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis and other types of arthritis conditions, OA doesn't affect your internal organs or other major tissues. Instead, OA breaks down the tissues that cover and protect your body's joints. Without protection, your bones, joints, and soft tissues rub together and become easily irritated or inflamed.
Osteoarthritis is a gradual process, so you might not notice any substantial changes in your joints until it becomes worse. Your symptoms may include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joints. If the inflammation continues to worsen, you may have problems moving your body. Many individuals experience limited mobility when they have OA. For instance, you may have problems walking up stairs or stooping to tie your shoes.
OA can potentially worsen if you develop osteoporosis, which can cause fractures in your bones. Although osteoporosis is more common in women, it can also develop in men who experience male menopause (andropause). Andropause occurs when your male hormones decline. As with OA, osteoporosis is a gradual process that affects multiple body areas, including your spine and hips. You should be aware that even if you don't have OA right now, male menopause can make you susceptible to it.
If your joints or bones fracture due to osteoporosis, you might not know it if you have osteoarthritis. The pain in your joints may mask the pain caused by the fractures. Osteoporosis usually doesn't produce signs until bone fractures happen, so it's important that you find out if you have OA and osteoporosis right away.
How Do You Treat and Protect Your Bones and Joints?
If you haven't done so already, see an orthopedic doctor for care. A doctor can examine different joints of your body for visual signs of OA. Osteoarthritis can enlarge and deform joints. For instance, some or all of the knuckles in your fingers may appear knobby and abnormally large. An orthopedic doctor may also check for inflammation by touching your joints. Joints affected by OA can become extra sensitive over time.
To detect signs of osteoporosis, a doctor may use X-rays to examine your bones and joints, especially those found in the hips and spine. These body areas can be harder to examine visually because of their locations. Spinal bones affected by osteoporosis can potentially fracture and cause nerve damage, which requires surgery to repair.
To treat OA, you may take medications that reduce inflammation in your body. You might also undergo PT, or physical therapy, to strengthen your joints and improve your range of motion. If you're currently going through andropause, your muscles and joints may already be weakened by the changes in your hormones. PT may improve your quality of life overall.
If you have osteoporosis, a doctor may prescribe calcium supplements to strengthen and protect your bones. You can also eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Leafy green vegetables and low-fat dairy foods are good options for you. If you have concerns about your daily nutrition, discuss it with your doctor.
To protect your bones and joints from the damaging effects of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, schedule an appointment with an orthopedist today.