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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


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