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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Diseases & Conditions Diseases & Conditions Arrow to Osteoporosis Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, (meaning "porous bone") is a disease in which the bones become increasingly fragile and brittle.

Today, 10 million people in the United States suffer from osteoporosis, and is more often seen in people as they age. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men due to a sudden drop in estrogen following menopause.

Since osteoporosis tends to run in families, heredity also appears to play a major role in determining who develops the condition.

illustration of normal vs osteoporotic bone
At left, a normal vertabral bone. At right,
the lacy, brittle consistency of a bone
effected by osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis - the "silent thief"

Osteoporosis often comes on suddenly and without warning, with no symptoms to indicate that bone loss has occurred.

As bones become thinner and more fragile they can break easily by a simple fall, turn or twist.

People often do not realize that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone (most commonly the hip bones, followed by wrist and spinal bone fractures.)

As osteoporosis progresses and bone loss continues, a person may even notice a decrease in their height and appear as though they are shrinking. Even without bone breakage, osteoporosis can cause chronic pain and limited mobility or lead to spinal problems and deformity such as curvature of the spine.

Risk factors for osteoporosis :

• Early menopause

• Low calcium diet

• Lack of exercise


• Heredity

Alcohol abuse

• Small bone frame


• Use of oral steroids

Diagnosing osteoporosis

A common diagnostic tool for osteoporosis is the bone density test, which evaluates bone strength. Screening to measure bone mass loss should be performed on women age 65 or older. Women who are post-menopausal, or anyone who has a family history of osteoporosis, should also be tested.

Treating osteoporosis

milk, cheese and other dairy products for treating osteoporosis
A high calcium diet is often recommended
for preventing and treating osteoporosis.

Treatment options consist of a variety of measures such as medications, diet and exercise.

Good nutrition, in fact, is one of the main factors in keeping bones strong and helping to treat and prevent osteoporosis.

Calcium and vitamin D are imperative in maintaining strong, healthy bones. For this reason, post-menopausal women are often advised to include sufficient dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese in their diet.

Exercise can also increase strength and bone density. Walking is a good form of exercise that can be done anywhere. However, with those already diagnosed with osteoporosis extra caution is usually advised when walking, climbing stairs, or participating in activities where injury could result in a fracture.

also see in Health -> Menopause Symptoms: They Can Be Serious

More about osteoporosis around the Web:

National Osteoporosis Foundation Support Center
- Join a busy online community with discussion topics including diet, exercise, treatment options and related topics on osteoporosis and related conditions.

Osteoporosis Frequently Asked Questions - Check out an excellent guide to facts, information and treatment options including advice on prevention with suggested high calcium and vitamin D foods, exercise tips, and related resources.

Osteoporosis - Wikipedia - Here's a good overview on prevention with additional information on drug treatment, common risk factors, with related features on healthy food choices and exercise, related photos and references.

About the author: Darlene Zagata


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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