Osteoporosis is a disease that reduces bone mass, bone density, and bone quality. It makes bones weak and brittle. Osteoporosis can lead to broken bones. Breaks in the hip, spine, and wrist are common but breaks can happen anywhere.
Osteoporosis happens when bone loss happens faster than bone growth. The cycle of bone loss and growth is normal throughout life. However, bone loss happens faster after age 30. There are many other things over a lifetime that increase the chance of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is more common in older adults and women. It’s also more likely to happen if full bone mass was not reached in childhood or early adult years.
The risk of osteoporosis is also higher if you have 1 or more of the following:
Some health conditions also increase the risk of osteoporosis:
Many do not know they have osteoporosis until a bone breaks. Other symptoms that may appear are:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Blood and urine tests may be done to rule out other problems such as a hormone imbalance. Images bones may be taken with:
The goal of treatment is to lower the chance of breaks and slow more bone loss. Both lifestyle changes and medicine can help.
Daily habits can both impact bones. For example:
Medicines can help prevent bone loss, increase bone density, and lower the risk of breaks. Medicine choices may include:
Falls can raise the chance of breaks in someone with osteoporosis. Steps to lower the chances of falls include:
It is important to build strong bones throughout childhood and early adult years. This will build a better bone supply for later years.
Other ways to decrease the risk of osteoporosis include:
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 September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH Last Updated: 9/24/2020