What is Idiopathic Osteoporosis?
Idiopathic osteoporosis is a type of rare osteoporosis that occurs in children and young adults under 50 years old who are seemingly healthy: they have normal hormone and vitamin levels and there are no obvious reasons for weak bones.
In other words, idiopathic osteoporosis is a rare type of osteoporosis that is unexplained, with no known cause or reason for bone loss.
There are two types of osteoporosis:
- Type 1, postmenopausal osteoporosis: This occurs in 5% to 20% of women and typically occurs within 15 to 20 years of menopause. The underlying cause of this type of osteoporosis is estrogen deficiency, which decreases parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion, calcium absorption and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D production.(1)
- Type 2, age-associated osteoporosis and idiopathic: Idiopathic osteoporosis can also affect juveniles, premenopausal women, and middle-aged men.
This can be a bit worrisome, naturally.
But there are signs and possible symptoms to look out for…
Signs & Treatment
Osteoporosis is known as the ‘silent disease’ because at first, there are no signs or symptoms. Bone loss happens gradually…and most people do not discover they have osteoporosis until they break a bone. Then, of course, doctors are able to diagnose the disease.
But as bone loss increases and your bone deteriorate, possible signs and symptoms include:
- Aches and Pains: You may experience sudden pain (which may be a sign of a fracture) or gradual bone aches. This can be a sign of severe bone loss or of bone deformities beginning to occur.
- Loss of Height: Vertebral fractures sometimes present as back pain or a loss of height. For instance, a slouching or rounding of the upper back, may be a sign of a vertebral fracture.
- Difficulty Walking: If idiopathic osteoporosis has progressed, a common symptom is difficulty walking.(2)
- Hip, Wrist, Spine and Forearms: The most common area for idiopathic osteoporosis is in the spine and vertebrae. But, it is also seen in the hip, wrist and forearms across all ages.
- Age: While idiopathic osteoporosis is rare, it is seen in children and young adults (under the age of 50 years old).
When it comes to adult osteoporosis, it is defined using an assessment of bone density alone. This is not the case when it comes to childhood idiopathic osteoporosis. You see, measuring bone density using a DEXA scan in adults is possible because it is a comparison of peak bone mass typically seen in adults. Since children have not reached peak bone mass, bone density measurements using a DEXA scan are not possible to define.(2)
But, when it comes to treating idiopathic osteoporosis, the following is recommended:
- Adequate calcium and vitamin D (plus other bone-building co-factors): Ensuring your bones are getting the vitamins and minerals they need are crucial. Choose a bone-healthy supplement with additional vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K2, boron and trace minerals.
- Weight bearing exercise: Exercise is beneficial at any age or stage in life. And when it comes to osteoporosis, weight-bearing exercise is what you should be focusing on. Weight bearing literally means to ‘bear your own weight’. So exercise such as hiking, running, and jumping are all considered weight bearing. This type of exercise positively stresses your bones – making them stronger and decreasing your risk of falls, and ultimately, fractures.
- Omega-3’s: Research shows that fish oil supplements and omega-3’s combat inflammation in the body. Inflammation causes osteoporosis by activating osteoclasts (the specialized cells that break down bone). Taking adequate amounts of omega-3’s will support your bone health. Find out how to determine your needs, here.
We’ve discussed signs, symptoms and treatment, now we will see what are the most common idiopathic osteoporosis questions.
FAQ’s of Idiopathic Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is typically seen in postmenopausal women 50 years and older. But, there are different types of osteoporosis that affect a wide range of ages, as you have read today. Idiopathic osteoporosis for instance, is seen in children and young adults under the age of 50. In addition, senile osteoporosis is seen in both men and women 70 years and older.
What causes bone loss in women?
Once you reach peak bone mass (which is around age 40) both men and women begin to lose about 1% of their total bone mineral density each year. But for women, bone loss accelerates during menopause due to a decrease in estrogen production. This can increase to 6% total loss of bone mineral density each year!(3) Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Women will continue to lose bone mineral density after menopause and into old age. Go here for more.
In addition, there are other causes of bone loss such as a lack of bone-building vitamins and minerals consumed through the diet and a lack of weight bearing exercise.
What are the causes idiopathic osteoporosis?
Idiopathic osteoporosis is defined as a type of osteoporosis in children and young adults under 50 years old with no known cause. It is typically seen in children and young adults who have normal hormone levels, normal vitamin D and calcium levels and have no obvious signs of weak bones. This makes it difficult to diagnose.
Can a teenager get osteoporosis?
Yes, children and young adults can get osteoporosis, although it is extremely uncommon. In fact, Idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis is only estimated in 1 in 100, 000 people.(2)
What is idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis and how is it different?
Idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis is defined as a type of osteoporosis seen in children and teenagers 16 years and younger, with no known cause. Idiopathic osteoporosis on the other hand, is defined as a type of osteoporosis with no known cause seen in both children and young adults, but under the age of 50 years old. The average age of idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis ranges from 1 to 13 years old.(4)
- Shaw NJ. Management of osteoporosis in children. Eur J Endocrinol. 2008 Dec;159 Suppl 1:S33-9. doi: 10.1530/EJE-08-0282. Epub 2008 Sep 4.
- J. M. Pouilles, F. Tremollieres, C. Ribot. The effects of menopause on longitudinal bone loss from the spine. Calcified Tissue International. May 1993, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 340-343