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What is Senile Osteoporosis: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Complications, Prevention

What is Senile Osteoporosis?

Senile osteoporosis is a type of osteoporosis and is also known as osteoporosis type II. Senile osteoporosis is a disease of bone leading to an increased risk of fracture due to reduced bone density in aging people. There is calcium deficiency and decreased bone density in senile osteoporosis which leads to deterioration of the bone structure.

Other than calcium deficiency there are multiple mechanisms which contribute to the development of senile osteoporosis. Senile Osteoporosis is treated by supplementing the body with calcium and vitamin D. Senile Osteoporosis has been recently recognized as a geriatric syndrome.

What is Senile Osteoporosis?

Types of Osteoporosis

There are 2 types of Osteoporosis:

Type-I Osteoporosis or Postmenopausal Osteoporosis: This osteoporosis usually develops after a woman has attained menopause. There is precipitous decrease in the estrogen levels in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. All these changes result in bone loss, where there is spongy bone within the hard cortical bone.

Type-II Osteoporosis or Senile Osteoporosis: Senile Osteoporosis develops usually after the age of 70. Senile Osteoporosis involves thinning of both the cortical (hard) bone and the spongy bone.

In this article we will be discussing about Type-II Osteoporosis or Senile Osteoporosis.

What Causes Senile Osteoporosis?

As a person ages, especially after crossing the age of 70, there is impairment in the function of the kidneys with decrease in the absorption and the ability to make vitamin D. The decreased concentration of vitamin D hinders the amount of calcium which can be absorbed. Decreased calcium levels trigger the parathyroid hormone to send signals to the body to reabsorb the bone in order to compensate for the deficiency of calcium in the body. All this results in gradual eroding of the spongy and hard bone structure with a resultant increased risk of bone fractures.

Risk Factors of Senile Osteoporosis

  • Smoking increases the risk for developing Senile Osteoporosis.
  • Not exercising and leading a completely sedentary life increases the risk of developing Senile Osteoporosis.
  • Increased consumption of alcohol increases the risk for developing Senile Osteoporosis.

What are the Symptoms of Senile Osteoporosis?

The characteristic features or symptom of Senile Osteoporosis is the failure of the body to absorb calcium and loss of the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D. All these result in loss of both the spongy as well as the hard bone.

How is Senile Osteoporosis Diagnosed?

A bone density scan is used to diagnose Senile Osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, the diagnosis of senile osteoporosis is often made after the fracture of a bone such as back, hip or wrist. If the patient has a family history of senile osteoporosis, then the doctor may order yearly bone density scans to keep an eye on the bone loss. Quantitative Computerized Tomography Scans or Ultrasound Scans also help in identifying the depleted bone density.

Prevention of Senile Osteoporosis

Senile Osteoporosis can be prevented by quitting smoking, limiting alcohol use and getting regular exercise.

What are the Complications of Senile Osteoporosis?

Fracture of the Vertebrae

This is the fracture of the bones present in the spine. Only about 1/3 of vertebral fractures are diagnosed, as many patients when suffering from back pain think of it as a normal part of aging or arthritis. However, if Vertebral Fracture is left undiagnosed and untreated, then vertebral compression fractures cause long-term complications such as progressive kyphosis and loss of height, severe debilitating pain and increasing deficits in psychological, physical and/or social functioning.

Complications of Vertebral Fracture are:

  • Decreased range of motion.
  • Increased inactivity.
  • Increased lung disorders, such as pneumonia or collapsed lung, and respiratory depression.
  • Constipation.
  • Compression of abdominal organs leads to decreased appetite and poor nutrition.
  • Deep venous thrombosis.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Progressive muscle weakness.
  • Crowding of internal organs.
  • Increased dependency.
  • Increased risk of future vertebral compression fractures due to spinal misalignment which may shift the patient’s center of balance.
  • Increased mortality rate.

Fracture of the Hip

Fracture of the hip occurring as a result of senile osteoporosis reduces the patient’s independence and can even shorten the patient’s life span. About half of the patients suffering from hip fracture are not able to regain their ability to live independently. A fracture of the hip renders the patient immobile for a long time and this leads to complications such as:

  • Bedsores.
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Blood clots in the lungs or legs.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Additional loss of muscle mass which increases the risk of falls and injury.

Other than this, patients with hip fracture have a higher risk of weakened bones and falls which in turn significantly increases the risk of another hip fracture.

Colles Fracture or Fracture of the Wrist

Senile osteoporoses if left untreated can cause Wrist Fracture which can further cause more complications such as:

  • Radiocarpal and radioulnar arthrosis.
  • Persistent neuropathies of nerves in the arm.
  • Malposition-malunion.
  • Rupture of the tendon.
  • Finger stiffness.
  • Shoulder-hand syndrome.
  • Other unrecognized associated injuries.

Death Occurring As A Result Of Post-Fracture Complications

There is a significantly increased mortality rates in patients suffering from vertebral and hip fragility fractures. There is no single factor which can accurately predict the risk of death from post-fracture complications; and as of now, there is no proven solution for improving survival rate in fractures occurring as a result of senile osteoporosis. Aggressive treatment of senile osteoporosis is important, especially in patients who have suffered from a fracture to reduce the morbidity rate and increase the chances of long-term survival.

What is the Treatment for Senile Osteoporosis?

Prevention of Senile Osteoporosis is the best treatment of Senile Osteoporosis. Since it is not always possible to prevent Senile Osteoporosis as this condition is often diagnosed after the patient has suffered a fracture; treatment of Senile Osteoporosis is done through various prescription medicines. This along with estrogen replacement therapy helps in combating the effects of senile osteoporosis.

Calcium is the main line of treatment for Senile Osteoporosis. Calcium supplements are prescribed to the patient for treating Senile Osteoporosis. Other than this, patient needs to increase natural calcium intake by taking a diet rich in dairy products, eggs and fish.

Vitamin D is the second key ingredient which should be included in the patient’s regime. Vitamin D is very important in treating senile osteoporosis due to the decreased kidney function seen in elderly individuals. Daily small doses of vitamin D are beneficial in treating senile osteoporosis.

Other than this, patient also needs magnesium, boron, vitamin K2 and trace minerals.

Senile Osteoporosis: CONCLUSION

The incidence of fractures in elderly people due to Senile Osteoporosis is on the rise and has become something of an epidemic nature. It is important to try and prevent Senile Osteoporosis and significant amount of money goes into this. Fractures due to Senile Osteoporosis have a great medical and socioeconomic importance. Trauma and particularly the trauma of the hip and spine fractures aggravate other medical conditions, which further leads to high mortality rate. Senile osteoporosis is the main cause of fractures in elderly people and fractures can be greatly reduced by starting appropriate treatment of senile osteoporosis.


  1. Heaney, R. P. (2001). Calcium, Dairy Products and Osteoporosis. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 20(2_suppl), 168S-175S. doi:10.1080/07315724.2001.10719064
  2. Gennari, C., Agnusdei, D., Crepaldi, G., Isaia, G., & Mazzuoli, G. F. (2005). Osteoporosis in men: epidemiology and pathophysiology. Bone, 36(1), 8-17. doi:10.1016/j.bone.2004.10.015
  3. Watts, N. B., & Diab, D. L. (2010). Long-Term Use of Bisphosphonates in Osteoporosis. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 95(4), 1555-1565. doi:10.1210/jc.2009-2447
  4. Klotzbuecher, C. M., Ross, P. D., Landsman, P. B., Abbott, T. A., & Berger, M. (2000). Patients with prior fractures have an increased risk of future fractures: a summary of the literature and statistical synthesis. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 15(4), 721-739. doi:10.1359/jbmr.2000.15.4.721
  5. Compston, J. E., & McClung, M. R. (2011). Bisphosphonates for osteoporosis — where do we go from here? New England Journal of Medicine, 364(21), 2026-2036. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1010796

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 28, 2023

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