Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones. Your bones become thinner and more fragile. This is called a loss of bone density. If you have osteoporosis, your bones break more easily.
Osteoporosis is much more common in women, but some men get osteoporosis too
Usually, osteoporosis is caused by aging, low levels of sex hormones, and not getting enough vitamin D or calcium
You can prevent osteoporosis by getting enough calcium and vitamin D, doing weight-bearing exercise (such as walking or lifting weights), and taking certain medicines
Bones that are more likely to break in osteoporosis include the:
A break in one of the spine bones in your middle or lower back may cause the bones to collapse partway. This is called a vertebral compression fracture Compression Fractures of the Spine In a compression fracture of the spine, the drum-shaped part (body) of one or more back bones (vertebrae) collapses into itself and becomes squashed (compressed) into a wedge shape. Most compression... read more .
Osteoporosis is usually caused by:
In men, low levels of testosterone (men's sex hormone)
Not getting enough vitamin D Vitamin D Deficiency Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight. Some disorders can also cause the deficiency. The most common cause is lack of exposure to sunlight, usually when... read more or calcium Overview of Calcium's Role in the Body Calcium is one of the body's electrolytes, which are minerals that carry an electric charge when dissolved in body fluids such as blood, but most of the body's calcium is uncharged. (See also... read more
At first, osteoporosis causes no symptoms. If your bones don't break, you may never have symptoms.
When osteoporosis causes your bones to break, you usually have pain. However, sometimes when your spine bones collapse, you don't have pain at first. Then later on you may start to have back pain that gets worse when you stand or walk.
If several spine bones in a row collapse, your spine may become curved and you may get shorter.
Doctors suspect you have osteoporosis if you're a woman older than 65 or have risk factors for osteoporosis.
Doctors will test how dense your bones are by using a special type of x-ray called a DXA ("dexa") scan. Your doctor typically will do a DXA scan if you're:
Sometimes your doctor will do blood tests to check your vitamin D and calcium levels.
If you have a broken bone caused by osteoporosis, your doctor may:
Doctors also will treat your osteoporosis to keep your bones from getting weaker by having you:
Bisphosphonates can help build up your bone density. Hormone supplements also benefit bones. That's because low levels of female hormones may increase your risk of osteoporosis. However, doctors usually don't prescribe hormone supplements just for osteoporosis.
Preventing osteoporosis works better than treating it. You can help prevent osteoporosis if you: