Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break (fracture).
Thin bones; Low bone density; Metabolic bone disease; Hip fracture - osteoporosis; Compression fracture - osteoporosis; Wrist fracture - osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease.
Osteoporosis increases the risk of breaking a bone. About one half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra (bones of the spine) during their lifetime. Spine fractures are the most common.
Your body needs the minerals calcium and phosphate to make and keep healthy bones.
Sometimes, bone loss occurs without any known cause. Other times, bone loss and thin bones run in families. In general, white, older women are the most likely to have bone loss.
Brittle, fragile bones can be caused by anything that makes your body destroy too much bone, or keeps your body from making enough new bone. As you age, your body may reabsorb calcium and phosphate from your bones instead of keeping these minerals in your bones. This makes your bones weaker.
A major risk is not having enough calcium to build new bone tissue. It is important to eat/drink enough high-calcium foods. You also need vitamin D, because it helps your body absorb calcium. Your bones may become brittle and more likely to fracture if:
Other causes of bone loss include:
Other risk factors include:
There are no symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis. Many times, people will have a fracture before learning they have the disease.
Fractures of the bones of the spine can cause pain almost anywhere in the spine. These are called compression fractures. They often occur without an injury. The pain occurs suddenly or slowly over time.
There can be a loss of height (as much as 6 inches or 15 centimeters) over time. A stooped posture or a condition called a dowager's hump may develop.
Treatment for osteoporosis may involve:
Medicines are used to strengthen bones when:
Medicines used to treat osteoporosis include:
The length of time a woman needs to take these medicines depends on her level of risk. Recommendations include:
Exercise plays a key role in preserving bone density in older adults. Some of the exercises recommended to reduce your chance of a fracture include:
Avoid any exercise that presents a risk of falling. Also, do not do high-impact exercises that can cause fractures in older adults.
Follow these guidelines for getting enough calcium and vitamin D:
(Note: Some expert groups are not sure the benefits and safety of these amounts of vitamin D and calcium outweigh their risks. Be sure to discuss with your provider whether supplements are a good choice for you.)
Stop unhealthy habits:
It is important to prevent falls by older people. These suggestions can help:
Surgery to treat severe, disabling pain from spinal fractures due to osteoporosis include:
Medicines to treat osteoporosis can help prevent future fractures. Spine bones that have already collapsed can't be made stronger.
Osteoporosis can cause a person to become disabled from weakened bones. Hip fractures are one of the main reasons people are admitted to nursing homes.
Be sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D to build and maintain healthy bones. Following a healthy, well-balanced diet can help you get these and other important nutrients.
Other tips for prevention:
Medicines can treat osteoporosis and prevent fractures. Your provider can tell you if any are right for you.
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