What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that causes bones to become thin and brittle, making them more likely to break. Osteoporosis may result in broken bones (fractures) in the spine and hip. Hip fractures often require hospitalization, and fractures of the bones in the spine (vertebrae) can cause loss of height and severe back pain. Both may lead to permanent disability.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Typically, you do not have symptoms in its early stages. According to WebMD, as the disease progresses, you may develop symptoms related to weakened bones, including:
Back pain. Loss of height and stooped posture. A curved backbone. Fractures that may occur with a minor injury, especially of the hip, spine, or wrist.
How is osteoporosis treated?
The process of bone thinning is a natural part of aging. However, you can slow or delay osteoporosis with healthy lifestyle habits, such as not smoking, getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and getting regular exercise, which helps build and strengthen your bones. According to WebMD, treatment for osteoporosis includes eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, getting regular exercise, and taking medication to reduce bone loss and increase bone thickness. Even small changes in diet, exercise, and medication can help prevent a broken bone.
What is a bone mineral density test?
A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures the mineral density (such as calcium) in your bones using a special X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, or ultrasound. From this information, an estimate of the strength of your bones can be made. Regular X-rays cannot detect mild bone loss. A bone must lose at least a quarter of its weight before a regular X-ray can detect the problem.
To learn more about osteoporosis:
• Click here for more information from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
• The National Institutes For Health has more resources on osteoporosis and related bone diseases.
• WebMD has a guide to osteoporosis.