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Symptoms and Signs of Osteoporosis FAQ

Doctor's Notes on Osteoporosis FAQ

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bone loss occurs, so that bones become weak and are more likely to break. Without prevention or treatment, osteoporosis can progress without pain or symptoms until a bone breaks (fractures). Osteoporosis can occur at any age but it is more common in adults over age 50 years. In women, bone loss occurs more quickly the first few years after menopause, but it continues into the postmenopausal years. This process is slower by 10 years in men.

Low bone mass (osteopenia) and osteoporosis may have no symptoms. The first symptom of osteoporosis can be sudden back pain. As osteoporosis progresses, the spinal vertebrae can begin to collapse, which may be felt as severe back pain or cause a loss of height or spinal deformities. Spinal fractures can cause permanent loss of height. When the spinal vertebrae collapse in the upper back, it can lead to a hump of curvature (dowager's hump). Any bone in the body can be affected by osteoporosis and can break, but the most common bones broken in osteoporosis are the hip, spine, wrist, and ribs.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019

Osteoporosis FAQ Symptoms

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.

Osteoporosis FAQ Causes

Bones may seem like hard and lifeless structures, but they are in fact living tissue. Bone is constantly broken down and remodeled (through a process called bony resorption) by our bodies, while new bone is simultaneously deposited. When bone is broken down faster than it is deposited, low bone mass (osteopenia) and osteoporosis can occur.

What Is Osteoporosis? Treatment, Symptoms, Medication Slideshow

What Is Osteoporosis? Treatment, Symptoms, Medication Slideshow

Osteoporosis is a disorder of the bones in which the bones become brittle, weak, and easily damaged or broken. A decrease in the mineralization and strength of the bones over time causes osteoporosis.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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