Osteoporosis is a disease marked by reducing bone mass, density, and quality. This makes bones weak and brittle. If left unchecked, it can lead to broken bones. Breaks of special concern are of the hip, spine, and wrist. But, they can happen anywhere.
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The loss of bone faster than it is formed causes osteoporosis. Bone loss happens faster after age 30. There are many factors over a lifetime that can lead to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is more common in:
It’s more likely to happen if full bone mass was not reached during your bone-building years.
Your chances are also higher for:
In most cases, people with osteoporosis don’t know they have it until a bone breaks. If symptoms appear, they may cause:
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have:
Care mainly involves lifestyle changes and medicines. The goal is to lower the chance of breaks and slow bone loss.
Lower your intake of alcohol. Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is in:
Don't smoke. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways you can successfully quit.
Exercise improves bone health. It also increases muscle strength and balance. Weight-bearing and strength-training offer the best benefits for your bones. Balance training may help lower the chances of falls and breaks.
People who do not eat enough calcium and vitamin D from foods may need supplements. Don’t take them without talking to your doctor first.
Falls can raise the chance of breaks in someone with osteoporosis. Here are ways to lower your chances of falls:
Certain medicines can help prevent bone loss, increase bone density, and lower your risk of breaks. These may include:
Building strong bones throughout your early years is the best defense. Getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and regular exercise can keep bones strong throughout life.
Other ways you can lower your chances:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Osteoporosis Foundation
Women's College Hospital—Women's Health Matters
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Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcie L. Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 6/22/2018