It is estimated that osteoporosis affects over 200 million people around the world. Osteoporosis is a common disorder largely associated with aging which causes a loss of bone mass and surrounding skeletal tissue. This can cause bones to break more easily and, as populations grow older, 40% of post menopausal women and around a third of older men will experience a bone fracture caused by the condition in later life. While there are natural ways to improve bone health, further research into effective drugs and other innovative therapies is also underway. These could provide effective treatments to enhance musculoskeletal health, improve movement and balance, and prevent falls and fractures.
Drugs to Strengthen Bones and Build Muscle
As a first step in the treatment of osteoporosis, scientists are calling for more extensive research into drugs that can improve musculoskeletal health. Studies have already shown that bisphosphonates, a class of drug that can slow bone loss, can be very effective in the reduction of common and preventable fractures. While these drugs can improve bone strength, others can help to build up skeletal microarchitecture, tissue and muscle which can provide support for weaker bone structures. A selective androgen receptor modulator, or SARM such as Ostarine MK-28 66 triggers changes in the DNA which stimulate muscle growth. Building and maintaining strong muscles can protect weak or damaged joints from impact, and ensure that ease of movement and a steady balance are maintained.
Low-intensity Vibration Improves Bone Health
For a more natural intervention, low-intensity vibration (LiV) has been shown to be very effective in increasing bone and muscle mass in patients with osteoporosis. LiV was originally developed in conjunction with NASA in order to counteract the effect of zero gravity on the musculoskeletal health of astronauts. A vibration device stimulates the stem cells responsible for bone production while inhibiting the breakdown of bone tissues. Standing on the device for just a few minutes a day can help to keep bones stronger and healthier without causing damage or any unwelcome side effects.
Surgery and Implants Enhanced by 3D Printing
The use of 3D-printing technology has now infiltrated the field of medicine where it allows doctors to prepare for complex surgery with accurate models of a patient’s anatomy, or create prosthetics made to fit precisely a patient’s physique. In the treatment of osteoporosis, it is used to biomanufacture bone implants to replace damaged tissue that is beyond repair. Osteoporosis can cause damage to the spine, and may require complex surgery to fix fractured vertebrae or spinal deformities. A 3D model of the patient’s spine allows surgeons to become familiar with the region to be treated, reducing the time it takes to complete surgery and also the risk of complications during the delicate procedure.
Osteoporosis is a common age-related condition resulting in the deterioration of bone tissue. New drugs and therapies are effective in improving musculoskeletal health, while innovative technology can enhance procedures where surgery or implants are necessary.