Osteoporosis

Overview

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones making you susceptible to fractures. Osteoporosis, meaning “porous bone”, is characterized by low bone mass and the loss of bone tissue. Over 40 million Americans have Osteoporosis or are at risk for the disease.

Bone is living, growing tissue that is mostly made up of collagen (a protein providing the soft framework), and calcium phosphate (a mineral that adds strength and hardens the framework). Throughout your life, old bone is removed (called resorption) and new bone is added (called formation). Bone formation occurs faster than bone resorption until you reach peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength reached), which usually occurs in your 20’s. After that time, bone resorption catches up and slowly begins to exceed bone formation.

Osteoporosis – which mainly affects women, but also affects men – develops when bone resorption occurs too quickly and bone formation occurs to slowly creating an unbalanced process.

Causes

The likely of you developing osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you attained during your youth. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.

Symptoms

Osteoporosis is often referred to as the “silent disease” because you can have the disease without even realizing it. People don’t feel their bones getting weaker, but there are a few signs that may indicate that you have the disease. Breaking a bone more easily than expected, noticing that you are getting shorter or your upper back is curving forward are all signs that you may have the disease.

Treatment

The most common treatment for people who have osteoporosis is Bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates is a long-term treatment therapy that works by slowing the bone destroying cells (osteoclasts), allowing the bone building cells (osteoblasts) to form new bone without getting broken down. Another treatment plan includes hormone-related therapies.