Osteoporosis is a bone disorder. The bones become thinner. They lose their strength and are more likely to break. People with osteoporosis have a higher risk of fractures.
Bones can fracture even during everyday movements, such as bending or coughing. The most common osteoporotic fractures occur in the wrist, hip and spine.
Osteoporosis can cause a great deal of suffering, including loss of independence. Death may even occur, especially when the fracture involves the hip.
Hip fractures can be difficult to heal. They reduce the person's ability to move around. This can lead to complications and other health problems.
Osteoporosis is much more common in women than in men. This is because of the hormonal changes that occur during menopause.
Osteoporosis is not a form of arthritis. However, it can cause fractures that lead to arthritis.
You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if you:
Are 50 or older
Have a diet low in calcium
Have an intestinal problem that prevents calcium and vitamins from being absorbed
Have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or take too much thyroid hormone
Lead a sedentary lifestyle
Take certain medications, such as prednisone
Are Caucasian or of Asian descent
Drink too much alcohol
Have a family history of osteoporosis
Have had at least one "fragility" fracture (one caused by little or no trauma)