3 Unusual Things That Can Aggravate Osteoporosis

Brittle bones can be the result of osteoporosis, which is a degenerative disease of the bones that typically affects menopausal women. While men can get osteoporosis too, it is much more common in women when circulating estrogen levels decline during menopause. Pain is a common symptom of this disease, however, it can be well-managed with certain over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as certain lifestyle modifications. While lack of exercise, poor diet, and advancing can all increase your spinal pain, there are other, less common things that may aggravate your osteoporosis, including:

Allergic Reactions

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, or if you sneeze, cough, wheeze, or get a runny nose when you are around pets, your osteoporotic pain may worsen. Allergies trigger an inflammatory response in your body prompting the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines.

When these substances are released into your circulation, body-wide inflammation can occur which may affect your spinal column, resulting in pain. To keep cytokines from flooding your bloodstream, try managing your allergies with over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestant nasal sprays, and limiting your time outdoors when allergen counts are at their highest. 


Cigarette smoking can also heighten the risk for systemic inflammation because of the free radicals produced by the chemicals in tobacco. If you smoke and notice an increase in back pain, try quitting or cutting down to see if you get any relief.

Smoking can also contribute to calcium loss in your bones which can exacerbate osteoporosis. It can also lead to vitamin C depletion which may also be a risk factor in the progression of osteoporosis and other degenerative spinal conditions. If you are unable to quit smoking on your own, talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement patches or gum, oral medications, smoking cessation support groups, or cognitive therapy to help you quit. 


When you are anxious or under great stress, your body is unable to relax. This can be very detrimental for those suffering from the back and spine pain of osteoporosis. During times of stress and anxiety, the surrounding structures that support your spine become tense, and in some cases, inflammation may develop.

When this happens undue pressure is placed upon your vertebral column, leading to pain, diminished range of motion, and limited mobility. If you suffer from periods of anxiety, try to increase your physical activity, as doing so can help promote the release of "feel good" chemicals known as endorphins. These substances are also natural pain relievers and might help ease your discomfort.

If you have osteoporosis and smoke, have episodes of anxiety, or suffer from allergies, see your doctor. The more your health care team knows about your medical history and lifestyle choices, the sooner an effective treatment plan can be implemented to treat your existing osteoporosis and perhaps even slow its progression.