Secondary Osteoporosis

Secondary osteoporosis is caused by certain medical conditions or treatments that interfere with the attainment of peak bone mass and may cause bone loss. With secondary osteoporosis, an increased rate of bone remodeling – or an increase in the amount of bone being remodeled – causes an overall increase in the rate of bone loss.  Osteoporosis can also be the result of disorders where the bone marrow cavity expands at the expense of the trabecular bone. If a trabecular bone is affected by increased bone marrow cavities, it loses some of its strength.

Medical conditions resulting in secondary osteoporosis may include:

  • Serious kidney failure
  • Cushing's disease (a tumour of the pituitary gland, responsible for secreting some of the body's   hormones)
  • Liver impairment
  • Anorexia nervosa and bulimia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Malabsorption syndromes such as celiac disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a condition affecting the airways)
  • Scurvy

Secondary osteoporosis can also have hormonal causes:

  • Hyperparathyroidism: increased activity of the parathyroid glands
  • Hyperthyroidism: an excessive secretion of the thyroid glands
  • Diabetes: a disease where the body does not produce or use insulin correctly (This leads to: hyperglycemia:- an increase in blood sugar, increasing susceptibility to infection, and glycosuria - glucose in the urine.)
  • Hypercortisolism: a result of systemic illness or long-term use of oral corticosteroid

Other links to secondary osteoporosis are:

  • Thalassemia: a hereditary form of anemia
  • Multiple myeloma: multiple tumors within the bone and bone marrow
  • Leukemia: a serious disease that is characterized by unrestrained growth of white blood cells in the tissues
  • Metastatic bone diseases: when malignant tumor cells spread from one part of the body to another; the disease travels through the blood and settles in the bones

Medications or chemicals:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Corticosteroid therapy
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Lithium (used to treat many psychiatric disorders)
  • Aluminum
  • Barbiturates
  • Antacids containing aluminum

Treatment of secondary osteoporosis is more complex than treatment of primary osteoporosis, and depends on the underlying disease. In secondary osteoporosis, treatment may include treating the underlying cause of the disease. Some of the methods used to treat osteoporosis are also the methods used to help prevent it from ever developing.