Osteoporosis at a Glance

For the most part, our bodies function on autopilot—and the same goes for our bones: They’re programmed to regenerate themselves, with new bone replacing old. In ideal circumstances, this keeps bone tissue dense and sturdy.

If you have osteoporosis, a condition that affects about 10 million Americans, several things can happen:

  • Your body may be losing bone mass too fast.
  • Your body may not be making enough new bone fast enough.
  • You may not have had enough strong bone to start with.
  • Or you may be experiencing a combination of these problems.

The result? Your bones weaken over time, and if left unchecked, something as ordinary as lifting a stuffed grocery bag can cause a fracture. But perhaps the most important osteoporosis fact of all is that it’s a silent disease: Since you can’t see or feel your bones getting weaker, you could have osteoporosis and not even know it.

How do I know if it’s happening to me?

All too often, people don’t discover they have osteoporosis until bone weakness leads to a fracture, or broken bone—and the result can have long-term effects. In addition to causing pain at the site of the break, fractures may require a lengthy recovery, which can mean time away from work, having to stop your favorite pastimes and needing others to help you perform basic everyday activities. In serious cases, like a hip fracture, you may need surgery, hospitalization and an intense recovery that puts your independence at risk.

What can I do to protect my bones?

Quite a lot! You can start taking steps today to help keep osteoporosis at bay and even reverse bone loss. The first is discovering how strong your bones are right now; building a partnership with your doctor can help you do just that.

Your doctor may recommend a bone mineral density scan, which will shed light on your bone health. She can also help you develop a bone-protecting action plan that may include eating more calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods, exercising, taking supplements and possibly osteoporosis medications.

 


Basics
Bone Density Testing: What to Expect
Did Osteoporosis Cause Your Fracture?
Osteoporosis at a Glance

What You Need to Know
Why Your Spine, Wrists & Hips Are at Risk


 
Top 4 Bone-Health Myths—Set Straight!
Osteoporosis Fast Facts

Separating Myths From Facts

How Fragile Are Your Bones?
How Your Spine Changes as You Age

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