Osteoporosis is a disease that affects your bones. It makes them thin and brittle and creates many holes inside them.

Because of this lack of bone density, they can break more easily. We see osteoporosis leading to fractures in the hip, spine and wrist in particular.

Nationwide, as many as 80% of fragility fracture patients don’t get the right osteoporosis care. More patients (over 2 million) suffer these fractures each year than suffer from heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer combined.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is more common in women, but men get it too. Usually it happens after the age of 60. You might not know you have osteoporosis until you break a bone after a fall or bump. Once it gets worse, you might develop symptoms like back pain, or notice you’re not as tall as you used to be.

Many things lead to osteoporosis:

  • Age, gender, and body type
  • Risks increase with age.
  • After menopause, women lack the estrogen that protects against bone loss.
  • People who are slender are more at risk.
  • Family history
  • Osteoporosis tends to run in families.
  • People of European and Asian background are at higher risk.
  • Lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough weight-bearing exercise
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D

It's important to find and treat osteoporosis early to prevent bone fractures. Experts advise bone density testing for women age 65 and older. If you have a higher risk for fractures, testing should be done even sooner.

Osteoporosis Treatments

There is medical treatment for osteoporosis that reduces bone loss and builds bone thickness. You also need to take enough calcium and vitamin D to build strong, healthy bones. Osteoporosis can be slowed with healthy habits. If you smoke, quit. Get more exercise including walking, jogging, dancing, and lifting weights. Eat healthy foods rich in calcium and vitamin D (yogurt, cheese, and milk for calcium, eggs, fatty fish, and fortified cereal for vitamin D).

When you have osteoporosis, it's important to protect against falls. Make your home safer by ensuring there’s enough light, stairs have handrails, and tripping hazards are removed like throw rugs and clutter.

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Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center