Osteoporosis: The Basics

May is National Osteoporosis Month, meaning it’s the perfect time to learn more about this incredibly common condition. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.”

Keep reading to learn more about this common condition and what the various risk factors are.

What is it?

Osteoporosis is a condition marked by low bone mass. Low bone mass leads to weakening of your bones and an increased risk of fractures. These fractures often occur in the wrists, hips, and spine.

Spinal fractures are fairly common with about 700,000 cases each year. These fractures often lead to chronic pain and decreased physical function, substantially affecting the patient’s quality of life.

One interesting fact is that this condition is often referred to as the ‘silent disease’ because many do not know they have the condition until they sustain a fracture.

Who’s at risk?

As with any condition, there are certain factors that increase your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

  • Age: People over the age of 65 are more at risk. In fact, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 sustain an osteoporosis-related fracture.
  • Gender: Women are more at risk because menopause causes them to lose bone mass more rapidly.
  • Family History
  • Race: Both Caucasian and Asian women are more at risk.
  • Body Type: Small-boned women weighing less than 125 pounds are more at risk.
  • Lifestyle: People that are calcium or vitamin D deficient, don’t get enough exercise, abuse alcohol, and smoke cigarettes are more at risk.

As you can see, osteoporosis is a common condition that affects a wide range of people. But don’t fret just yet; although it is very common, it is also largely treatable and preventable. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from osteoporosis, please contact your physician.

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