Osteoporosis is divided into different types based on its underlying causes. Primary and secondary osteoporosis are the two major types of osteoporosis. Natural age-related changes to bone density lead to primary osteoporosis while secondary osteoporosis is caused by separate medical conditions or medications.
A thorough clinical diagnosis can help in distinguishing primary osteoporosis and secondary diagnosis from each other. Treatment methods are different for primary and secondary osteoporosis and hence proper diagnosis is essential.
As you near old age, bone mass and strength tend to reduce. The change in bone density is the major cause of primary osteoporosis. The condition is most common in postmenopausal women but it can affect anyone in old age.
The changes in bone mass and structure caused by old age affect the spongy interior bone as well as the hard exterior bone or both.
How Does Primary Osteoporosis Develop?
As one age, the rate of bone resorption becomes greater than the rate at which bone is rebuilt. The imbalance leads to lowered bone mass and makes bones thinner and weaker. The bones become more prone to fractures.
In postmenopausal women, the drastic decrease in estrogen levels is the primary cause of bone density loss.
Secondary osteoporosis is caused by the negative influence of a separate health condition or medication on bone metabolism, thereby leading to lower bone density and increased risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.
Causes Of Secondary Osteoporosis
Health conditions leading to secondary osteoporosis include:
- Endocrine disorders that affect the glands that produce various hormones in our body are common causes of secondary osteoporosis. Hormones play a significant role in bone development, indicating that hormone levels that are higher or lower than normal will increase the risk of lowered bone density. Examples include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease and hypogonadism.
- Collagen disorders: Collagen disorders like Marfan syndrome that cause an imbalance in collagen levels in the body.
- Malnutrition: Adequate amount of nutrients are important for healthy bone growth. Malnutrition increases the risk of developing secondary osteoporosis.
- Autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune disorders like ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis may lead to secondary osteoporosis.
- Renal disorders: Renal disorders like chronic kidney disease can put you at the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
In addition to primary and secondary osteoporosis, people may also develop two other types of osteoporosis, osteogenesis imperfecta and idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis. However, these are found very rarely.