What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis causes your bones to become weak and brittle. The term osteoporosis means porous bone. Porous generally means something has holes in it. Bone is a living tissue. Every day it breaks down and your body makes more of it. But if new bone doesn't form as fast as the old bone is being removed, you lose bone mass, or density. The bones get weak. Osteoporosis occurs. You could have the condition and not know it. Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease. The symptoms can strike quietly. The good news is that there are simple ways to prevent bone loss.

One in every five American women over the age of 50 has osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is basically the thinning and weakening of the bones. Bone density tests for osteopororsis are recommended for all women starting at age 65; earlier screening is very common, especially if a person has risk factors for osteoporosis such as a low body mass index (BMI), being underweight or smoking. Based on your bone density, your doctor may prescribe treatment to stop your bones from thinning further, which puts you at a high risk for a fracture. Treatments available include bisphosphonate medications, which can come in oral and intravenous forms, and many newer medications that can come in injections that can be given every six months.
Dr. Aruna V. Josyula, MD
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

Osteoporosis is a silent bone disease that causes bones to become brittle or fragile, which increases the risk of fracture. Both men and women can get osteoporosis, although women are at higher risk, particularly after menopause.

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Dr. Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine Specialist

Osteoporosis literally means "porous bone." While many people erroneously believe that osteoporosis is the result of the loss of calcium and other minerals of bone, it actually involves a loss of both the mineral (inorganic) and nonmineral (organic matrix, composed primarily of protein) components of bone. Bone is dynamic, living tissue that is constantly being broken down and rebuilt, even in adults. Osteoporosis occurs when there is more bone breaking down than being formed.

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Normally, your body recycles old bone components to make new ones, and it also deposits new calcium and other minerals into your bone to make them hard and dense. But after you turn 35, your bones stop growing and we gradually lose bone density, which means that the tiny holes in them get larger while the hard substance gets thinner. So your bones become more porous, weaker, and more susceptible to injury and fractures.

If the decrease in bone density is significant enough, it can lead to osteoporosis—a condition that thins and weakens the bones to the point where they can break very easily. In people with osteoporosis, the deterioration of old bone cells outpaces the formation of new bone cells.

If you are getting enough physical activity, controlling blood pressure and eliminating cigarettes, you're well on your way from keeping osteoporosis at bay.


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Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones become weak and contain less bone tissue. Osteoporosis literally means "porous bones." The name is appropriate because if you have osteoporosis your bones are less dense and appear to have more pores or holes in them. The lower bone density may predispose you to bone fractures.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. People with osteoporosis have bones that are weak and break easily.

A broken bone can really affect your life. It can cause severe pain and disability. It can make it harder to do daily tasks on your own, such as walking.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Debra Fulghum Bruce PhD
Healthcare Specialist

Osteoporosis is thinning of the bones, or a decrease in the density of the bone. As your bones become thinner, they become easier to fracture or break. For millions of older adults, mostly women, such daily activities as standing, walking and bending may be enough to cause a broken bone. These fractures commonly occur in the back, the hip, the foot and the wrist. 

Osteoporosis is a disease that involves thinning of the bones, a decrease in bone density. Over time, as our bones become weaker, they become easier to fracture or break. For millions of older adults (mostly women) with osteoporosis, daily activities such as walking, bending, coughing or reaching for dishes in a cabinet may be stressful enough to break a bone. These fractures commonly occur in the back, hip, foot and wrist. In fact, with this disease, a seemingly minor injury that otherwise might go unnoticed can result in a fracture with severe pain, limitation and expense.

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Osteoporosis means there is loss of bone. This makes bones weak and they can break easily. Osteoporosis can also cause pain and limit physical activity.

Anthony Cirillo
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease. Osteoporosis results in thinning of the cortical bone, so that often the remaining bone is no thicker than an eggshell by the time an individual is in her 80s. This thinning can lead to bones that are so weak that a stumble, trip or fall can lead to a fracture.

Osteoporosis is a decrease in the bone density or thinning of bone tissue, which happens over time. This disease can lead to increased risk of fractures. Osteoporosis can affect anyone. However, it most likely presents itself in women after menopause.

Osteoporosis is thin, weak bones. When you have this illness, your bones can break easily and heal slowly. Anyone can have osteoporosis, but it happens more often in older people. Also, more women have it than men.

Osteoporosis is a progressive metabolic bone disease—a disorder of the chemical reactions occurring in bone. This disorder consists of loss of some of the mineral content and protein structure of the bone. The resulting deterioration makes the bone weak and increases the risk of fractures (breaks). Genetics probably plays a role in this disease, but the exact mechanism is not known.

Two points should be remembered. Osteoporosis is not the same as low bone density. For example, healthy young women who are small and thin have fairly low bone density. Also, osteoporosis is not the same as the slow bone loss that's normal and usually inevitable as we age. (Such loss averages about 0.5 percent of bone mass a year from age 25 onward, and 0.75 percent a year after age 50.)

Osteoporosis is a specific bone disease in which the collagen in bone—its strong, fibrous protein network—develops gaps in its connecting links. The gaps appear because the two kinds of bone cells that normally work together to dissolve old bone tissue and manufacture new, replacement bone tissue do not communicate properly. The bone-dissolving cells increase their activity, but the bone-rebuilding cells do not get the message to promptly form new cells.

The two most common forms of this disorder are type 1 (postmenopausal) and type 2 (late-life) osteoporosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.