What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that
causes weak, thinning bones. This puts the bones at greater risk of breaking. The bones
most often affected are the hips, spine, and wrists.
What causes osteoporosis?
Researchers don’t know the exact
cause for osteoporosis. But a number of factors contribute to the disease.
Who is at risk for osteoporosis?
Women are 4 times more likely to
get osteoporosis than men. Here are other things that may put you at risk for osteoporosis:
Older age. Bones become less dense and weaker with
Race. White and Asian women are
most at risk. But all races may get the disease.
Body weight. People who weigh less
and have less muscle are more at risk for this condition.
Lifestyle factors. Lack
of physical activity, caffeine, heavy alcohol use, smoking, dietary calcium, and
vitamin D deficiency may all increase your risk.
Certain medicines. Some medicines
may increase your risk.
Family history. Having a family
history of bone disease may increase your risk.
Having low bone mass (osteopenia)
also puts you at a greater risk for osteoporosis.
Low estrogen is one of the main causes of bone loss in women during and after menopause. Women may lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5 to 7 years after menopause.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
People with osteoporosis may not
have any symptoms. Some may have pain in their bones and muscles, particularly in their
back. Sometimes a collapsed vertebra may cause severe pain, decrease in height, or
The symptoms of osteoporosis may
look like other bone disorders or health problems. Always talk with your healthcare
provider for a diagnosis.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will
review your personal and family health history and do a physical exam. Other tests
Bone density test (bone densitometry). This test measures
the mass of bone and its volume to find the risk of getting osteoporosis.
Blood tests. These tests measure
calcium and potassium levels.
FRAX score. This is a score given to
estimate the risk of a fracture within 10 years. The score uses the results of a bone
density test as well as other things.
X-rays. This test uses energy beams
to make images of tissues, bones, and organs on film.
Women are encouraged to:
- Review lifestyle practices with their
healthcare provider regularly.
- Have their personal risk for falls checked at least once a year after menopause.
- Have their height and weight checked yearly.
- Get checked for the development of a rounded humped in the spine and back pain (kyphosis).