Why Does Osteoporosis Matter?

Learn how osteoporosis, bone loss and related fractures can impact your life.

Medically reviewed in July 2022

Osteoporosis is the weakening of bones, which can lead to painful spine fractures, a broken wrist, or hip breaks. It's most common among people age 65 and older, so why should anyone younger care?

Osteoporosis can be devastating, especially if it leads to a fracture of the spine or hip in old age. "A spine fracture is very painful and associated with increased risk of death," says Elizabeth Shane, MD, professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and a specialist in osteoporosis and other bone diseases. "With a hip fracture, you can't live independently. You'll either need a caregiver or have to go into assisted living."

Less serious in terms of health consequences is a broken wrist, which would require wearing a cast. A broken wrist makes performing everyday tasks, such as buttoning buttons or preparing a meal, a challenge.

"It's important to build the strongest bone mass possible in childhood, and from that point on, keep your bones in good shape to help prevent osteoporosis when you're older," says Diane Schneider, MD, author of The Complete Book of Bone Health. Preventive measures are especially important for women in perimenopause or menopause, since bone loss speeds up at this time. The four cornerstones of preventing bone loss and keeping bones strong are weight-bearing exercise, core strength for good balance (keep working those abs), the right amount of calcium, and the right amount of vitamin D.

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