Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens bones to the point where they may break easily. This disease most often causes fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist bones.
In young, healthy adults, bones continue to grow, reaching their greatest strength around ages 20 to 35. After that, bones slowly become weaker as you age.
The risk of osteoporosis increases with age and usually develops in women after menopause, between the ages of 45 and 55. After menopause, women produce much less estrogen. Low levels of estrogen cause weakening of the bones, as estrogen helps deposit calcium in the bones.
Other causes of Osteoporosis are:
You may have no symptoms until a bone breaks. Broken bones are the most common problem for people with osteoporosis. Often it’s the hip, arm, or wrist that breaks. The bones of the spine are also a common area of thinning. Over time, the bones of the spine (vertebrae) can collapse on themselves, one at a time, causing loss of height, back pain, and stooping posture.
Your healthcare provider may discover you have osteoporosis from an X-ray taken for some other problem. Otherwise, the diagnosis might be made from a review of your medical history and symptoms, a physical exam, X-rays, and blood tests. You may have a test to measure your bone mineral density, which is called a DXA scan.
The risk of a broken bone resulting from osteoporosis increases with age. Once menopause begins, most women, especially Caucasian and Asian women, need to take precautions for the rest of their lives to prevent osteoporosis.
The goals of osteoporosis treatment are to:
There are several different treatment options for osteoporosis, including lifestyle changes and a variety of medications.