Maintaining strong and healthy bones is essential for women of all ages, yet certain chronic illnesses pose unique challenges to bone health. Chronic conditions like diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal diseases can significantly affect women’s bone health. For instance, diabetes disrupts the body’s ability to regulate insulin, leading to lower bone density and a higher risk of fractures. Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis cause inflammation, which can damage joints and bones. Gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease impair nutrient absorption, leading to deficiencies in vital bone-strengthening minerals like calcium and vitamin D.
Understanding the Mechanisms
In diabetes, high blood sugar levels can interfere with the normal functioning of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for building bone tissue, while also increasing the activity of osteoclasts, which break down bone
Kalaitzoglou, E., Popescu, I., Bunn, R. C., Fowlkes, J. L., & Thrailkill, K. M. (2016). Effects of Type 1 Diabetes on Osteoblasts, Osteocytes, and Osteoclasts. Current osteoporosis reports, 14(6), 310–319. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11914-016-0329-9
. In autoimmune disorders, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, including bones and joints, leading to degradation
Dulshara Sachini Amarasekara, Jiyeon Yu, Jaerang Rho, “Bone Loss Triggered by the Cytokine Network in Inflammatory Autoimmune Diseases”, Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2015, Article ID 832127, 12 pages, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/832127
. Gastrointestinal diseases disrupt the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, essential nutrients for bone health
Fleet JC. Vitamin D-Mediated Regulation of Intestinal Calcium Absorption. Nutrients. 2022; 14(16):3351. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14163351
Psychosocial Impact and Management:
Living with chronic illnesses can also lead to psychosocial stressors like anxiety and depression, further compromising bone health. This ongoing stress can disrupt hormonal balance, impacting bone density directly. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, can interfere with bone formation and increase the risk of osteoporosis
Kelly, R. R., McDonald, L. T., Jensen, N. R., Sidles, S. J., & LaRue, A. C. (2019). Impacts of Psychological Stress on Osteoporosis: Clinical Implications and Treatment Interactions. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 200. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00200
. Chronic illnesses can also limit the ability to participate in social activities, leading to feelings of isolation, which can affect lifestyle choices, such as diet and physical activity. These lifestyle changes, combined with the physiological effects of stress, can contribute to decreased bone density, making women more susceptible to fractures
Azuma, K., Adachi, Y., Hayashi, H., & Kubo, K. Y. (2015). Chronic Psychological Stress as a Risk Factor of Osteoporosis. Journal of UOEH, 37(4), 245–253. https://doi.org/10.7888/juoeh.37.245
. Managing these conditions requires a holistic approach that includes mental health support, proper medication, and lifestyle adjustments.
The Role of Portable Bone Density Scanners
Portable bone density scanners have emerged as invaluable tools in managing bone health, especially for women with chronic illnesses. Unlike traditional scanners found in hospitals, portable scanners are lightweight, compact, and can be used in various healthcare settings, including clinics, doctor’s offices, and even home visits. Because they bring bone density testing closer to patients, especially those with limited mobility due to chronic illness, portable scanners eliminate the need for patients to travel to healthcare facilities. This allows healthcare providers to detect changes in bone density early, allowing for timely interventions and prevention of fractures. For women undergoing treatment for chronic illnesses, portable scanners help assess the effectiveness of medications and lifestyle modifications on bone health so that adjustments to treatment plans can be made promptly based on the scan results.
A Holistic Approach
Recognizing the intricate relationship between chronic illnesses and women’s bone health is the first step towards effective management and prevention. Addressing the psychosocial impact of chronic illnesses on women’s bone health requires a holistic approach. By providing emotional support, encouraging physical activity, offering mental health interventions, promoting a balanced diet and personalizing treatment plans, healthcare professionals can empower women to manage their chronic conditions effectively while safeguarding their bone health and overall well-being. By addressing both the underlying chronic conditions and their impact on bone health, healthcare providers can help women lead fuller, healthier lives, free from the burden of fractures and osteoporosis.
Call Beammed for more information about our portable scanners at 800-769-6808