Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when bones become weak and brittle, causing them to be more likely to break. It is a silent disease because there are no symptoms that you can feel. Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.
Breaking a bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis, or height loss or your upper back curving forward. The most common fractures occur at the spine, wrist, and hip.
Osteoporosis leads to abnormally porous bone that is compressible, like a sponge. Risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, being female, low body weight, low sex hormones or menopause, smoking, and some medications. Prevention and treatment include calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and osteoporosis medications.
Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women — especially older women who are past menopause — are at highest risk. Medications, healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise can help prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones.
There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs and symptoms that include:
- Back pain
- Loss of height over time
- A stooped posture
- A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected
Your bone density can be measured by a machine that uses low levels of X-rays to determine the proportion of mineral in your bones. During this painless test, you lie on a padded table as a scanner passes over your body. In most cases, only a few bones are checked — usually in the hip, wrist and spine.
Treatment recommendations are often based on an estimate of your risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years using information such as the bone density test. If the risk is not high, treatment might not include medication and might focus instead on modifying risk factors for bone loss and falls.
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- 10 Dec 2017
- FOSRX/FAST Services