Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and can break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, from a simple action such as a sneeze or bumping into furniture.
There is no single cause for osteoporosis. Our bodies constantly build new bone and remove older bone. In childhood, more bone is built than removed. The bones grow in size. After age 30 or 40 the cells that build new bone do not keep up with those that remove bone. The total amount of bone decreases and osteoporosis may develop as a result.
Signs & Symptoms
- You cannot feel your bones getting weaker. You may only know you have osteoporosis when you break a bone.
- Spinal fractures can be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height or spinal deformities.
- Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the five to seven years after menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis.
About 90% of your bones are built by age 18 if you are a girl and 20 if you are a boy. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can help prevent osteoporosis later in life.
The following can help prevent osteoporosis:
- Get the calcium and vitamin D you need every day.
- Do regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
- Do not smoke and do not drink too much alcohol.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about your chance of getting osteoporosis and when you should have a bone density test.
Treatment for osteoporosis depends on the results of bone density scans, age, gender, medical history and the severity of the condition. Treatment most commonly involves lifestyle changes and medications and aims to maximise bone density and reduce the risk of bone fracture.