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Osteoporosis FAQs (cont.)

What Are Osteoporosis Symptoms and Signs?

In many people, low bone mass (osteopenia) and osteoporosis occur without any symptoms. In people with osteoporosis, a simple everyday movement, such as picking up a grocery bag, can cause a sudden onset of back pain, and that can be the first symptom. As osteoporosis progresses over a period of time, the bony building blocks of the spine (vertebrae) can begin to collapse. Collapsed vertebrae may be felt as severe back pain or cause a loss of height or spinal deformities. When the spinal vertebrae collapse in the upper back, it can lead to a hump of curvature (dowager's hump). The most common bones broken in osteoporosis are the hip, spine, wrist, and ribs, although any bone in the body can be affected by osteoporosis and can break. Spinal fractures can cause permanent loss of height.

When Does Osteoporosis Occur?

Osteoporosis can occur at any age. However, it is more common in people older than 50 years of age, and the older a person is, the greater the risk is of osteoporosis. This is because during childhood and teenage years, new bone is generally added faster than old bone is removed. This is the time when a diet rich in calcium, phosphate, and vitamin D is important. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. Maximum bone density and strength is reached by 20-25 years of age. The density and strength of the bones is fairly stable from 25-45 years of age. A slight loss of bone density begins to occur after age 30 because bone slowly begins to break down (a process called resorption) faster than new bone is formed. For women, bone loss is fastest in the first few years after menopause, but it continues gradually into the postmenopausal years. As bone density loss occurs, osteoporosis can develop. This process is slower by 10 years in men.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2016

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Osteoporosis »

Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disorder characterized by decreased bone mass and deterioration of bony microarchitecture.

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