Osteoporosis

This condition is a loss in bone density that results in fragile, porous bones that can fracture easily. Osteoporosis is most common among elderly women because of accelerated bone loss after menopause.


Overview

This condition is a loss in bone density that results in fragile, porous bones that can fracture easily. Osteoporosis is most common among elderly women because of accelerated bone loss after menopause.

Causes

Bone density is the amount of bone present in the skeleton – the higher the density, the stronger the bones. Bone density begins to decrease in men and women after the age of 35. Typical bone density loss is about 0.3 to 0.5% per year. Women, however, may lose up to 4 percent bone density per year during menopause because of estrogen deficiency.

Symptoms

Patients with this condition may not exhibit symptoms for many years. Often, osteoporosis is not diagnosed until a bone fracture occurs. Osteoporosis most commonly causes hip and spine fractures. Some patients with osteoporosis may develop a hunched, curved appearance of the upper back. This is the result of several small fractures of the spine over time.

Prevention and Treatment

Once diagnosed, osteoporosis cannot be fully cured, so treatment options for osteoporosis are aimed at preventing further bone loss. Prevention methods include stopping smoking, reducing consumption of alcohol, regular exercise, healthy diet, vitamin D and calcium supplements, hormone replacement therapy, and medications that may increase bone strength or promote bone formation.

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