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Health Library

Osteoporosis

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis (“porous bone”) is the progressive loss of bone. Bone is composed of calcium and protein. Bones become “porous” when less calcium is produced by the body or the body absorbs calcium out of the bones and is unable to replace it. Osteoporosis can lead to an increased risk in factures, most commonly compression fractures of the spine. Most patients do not realize that they have osteoporosis until they have experienced a fracture of some kind.


Common Causes

While the exact cause of osteoporosis is unknown, contributing factors include:

  • Aging
  • Smoking
  • Heredity
  • Decreased levels of estrogen
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Side effect of some medications

Diagnosis

  • History and physical exam by a musculoskeletal expert
  • Increased or new pain at a fracture site
  • X-ray
  • Bone densitometry
  • Specialized lab test

Treatment

Bone loss cannot be replaced. Treatment of osteoporosis focuses on prevention or slowing the progressive loss. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake and exercise/physical activity are the keys to prevention. Physical therapy can provide guidance with an exercise/physical activity program.

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