What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the medical term for severely weakened bones. Normally, the tissue of bones is constantly being built up and replaced, but people with osteoporosis gradually lose bone density over time because their body is not building new bone tissue as fast as the old tissue is removed. It is common among postmenopausal women, but osteoporosis can happen to anyone.

The Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Many people do not notice any signs of osteoporosis until it has progressed far enough to cause bone fractures. Symptoms and indications of osteoporosis include:

  • Loss of height due to a compressed spine
  • Back pain
  • Hunched posture or a curved spine
  • Trouble standing up from a chair without using your arms
  • Aching joints

The Underlying Cause of Osteoporosis

There are many reasons why some people’s bones begin to weaken with age. Declining levels of estrogen, testosterone, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D all contribute to lowered bone density. Furthermore, osteoporosis is more common in women, particularly over the age of 60. Often there is a family history of osteoporosis. And the conditions more commonly seen in people who are Caucasian or Asian.

Effective Treatments for Osteoporosis

To prevent osteoporosis from progressing to a stage of fractured bones, doctors may prescribe bisphosphonate medications, such as alendronate or ibandronate, to protect the bones. Hormone replacement therapy and vitamin supplements also help to protect bone density. Since exercise helps to increase bone density, working with a physical therapist to establish an appropriate exercise program can be very useful.