From The American College of Rheumatology:
- Osteoporosis results from a loss of bone mass (measured as bone density) and from a change in bone structure. Many factors will raise your risk of developing osteoporosis and breaking a bone. You can change some of these risk factors, but not others. Recognizing your risk factors is important so you can take steps to prevent this condition or treat it before it becomes worse.
- Age is not the only risk factor for osteoporosis. Lifestyle choices, certain diseases and even medications can lead to this condition.
- A simple test known as a bone density scan, or DEXA, can give important information about your bone health.
- Newer medications can slow and even stop the progression of bones getting weaker, and can help decrease fracture risk.
Osteoporosis is a common condition. Bone is living tissue that is in a constant state of regeneration. The body removes old bone (called bone resorption) and replaces it with new bone (bone formation). By their mid-30s, most people begin to slowly lose more bone than can be replaced. As a result, bones become thinner and weaker in structure. This accelerates in women at the time of the menopause. In men bone lost usually becomes more of an issue around age 70.
Osteoporosis is silent because there are no symptoms (what you feel). Sometimes you might notice height lost by noticing your clothes are not fitting right. Other times it may come to your attention only after you break a bone. When you have this condition, a fracture can occur even after a minor injury, such as a fall. The most common fractures occur at the spine, wrist and hip. Spine and hip fractures, in particular, may lead to chronic (long-term) pain and disability, and even death. The main goal of treating osteoporosis is to prevent such fractures in the first place.
Because Osteoporosis is silent, the bone density test, or DEXA, has become of major importance. The DEXA scan can tell you if your bone is becoming osteoporotic.
Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. By doing so, you can avoid the often-disabling broken bones (fractures) that can result from this condition. If you already have osteoporosis, new medications are available to slow or even stop the bones from getting weaker. These medicines also can decrease the chance of having a fracture.
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