Osteoporosis, (meaning "porous bone")
is a disease in which the bones become increasingly fragile and
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.
At left, a normal vertabral bone. At right,
the lacy, brittle consistency of a bone
effected by osteoporosis.
- the "silent thief"
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.
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.
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
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.