06 Jul Juvenile Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis, meaning porous bone, is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from a loss of bone density, typically resulting from hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium and/or vitamin D. Although osteoporosis is commonly seen in the elderly, it can occur at any age. When this condition occurs in children of all age groups it is termed juvenile osteoporosis.
Juvenile osteoporosis is categorised as secondary osteoporosis as it is a rare condition that is typically caused by an underlying medical condition, the medications used to treat certain conditions, or unhealthy lifestyle choices such as a lack of exercise and a poor diet. If the osteoporosis is to occur for an unknown reason, it is referred to as idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis.
Bones are living tissues that constantly rebuild, replace and repair themselves. From the minute we are born, until around the age of 25, we build more bone than we lose. This process of building bones is needed to help us grow and develop a strong skeleton.
In children with osteoporosis, the process of building bone tissue and mass is altered or interrupted. They either do not build enough bone tissue or they lose too much bone mass, or a combination of these two issues. This may result in the bones becoming less dense, losing their strength and being more susceptible to breaks and fractures.
The most common causes of juvenile osteoporosis include:
- A genetic disorder
- An underlying health condition such as juvenile arthritis, osteogenesis or kidney disease.
- Medications like corticosteroids or those used to treat cancer.
- A lack of calcium.
- A lack of vitamin D.
- Not getting enough exercise or being inactive for a prolonged period.
- Secondhand smoking and alcohol intake can also cause this condition to occur.
Secondary osteoporosis may be caused by the following health conditions:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Juvenile arthritis
- Osteogenesis imperfecta
- Anorexia nervosa
- Kidney disease
- Cystic fibrosis
Symptoms of juvenile osteoporosis often do not present until the child has fractured or broken a bone. However, with idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis, the child may experience pain in the lower back, hip and/or foot, have spinal abnormalities or may even be unable to walk.
The following factors may increase a child’s risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Taking high doses of corticosteroids
- A family history of osteoporosis.
- A lack of physical activity in their routine
- A history of certain chronic health conditions such as kidney disease, arthritis etc.
The occurrence of juvenile osteoporosis may be prevented by:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Doing strength and weight-bearing exercises.
- Reducing their caffeine intake.
- Ensuring that they get enough calcium and vitamin D through food, drink, and supplements.
- And, where possible, reducing their dose of steroids used to treat chronic conditions.
An osteopath may well be able to help relieve some of the symptoms related to osteoporosis. The gentle techniques used in osteopathy, such as massage, will help relieve pain, ease discomfort and improve body function and mobility. If needed, an osteopath can also assist with diet and home exercise recommendations and guidance.
At OsteoVision, our team of specialists are always available to assist and offer advice. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your child’s symptoms, require any information on this condition, or book an appointment.
Call: 03303 904 300
You can also book an appointment online at www.osteovision.life
Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. 2017. Osteoporosis in children – Better Health Channel. [online] Available at: <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoporosis-in-children> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
Stanfordchildrens.org. n.d. Juvenile Osteoporosis. [online] Available at: <https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=juvenile-osteoporosis-90-P01965> [Accessed 25 July 2021].