What is Osteoporosis?

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), osteoporosis is a “disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue.” The low bone mass and deterioration of bone lead to bone fragility and an increase in fractures of the hips, spine, and wrists. According to the Mayo Clinic, osteoporosis “affects men and women of all races,” but “white and Asian women – especially older women who are past menopause – are at highest risk” for developing osteoporosis. Typically, there are no symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis; however, once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis you might have signs and symptoms that include back pain, loss of height over time, bones that break much more easily than expected, and/or a stooped posture. Please Note: Talk to your doctor if you experience these symptoms and/or if you went through early menopause, took corticosteroids for several months at a time, or if either of your parents had hip fractures.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include unchangeable risks, such as your age and family history; personal medical history, such as medical conditions like eating disorders and lupus and certain medications, such as long-term use of corticosteroid medications; and changeable risks, such as a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. Some people with certain disabilities may be at higher risk for osteoporosis as well. For example, people with spinal cord injury have a high risk of developing osteoporosis and possibly breaking bones according to the researchers at the Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System. Good nutrition and regular exercise are essential for keeping your bones healthy throughout your life. Please Note: Speak with your doctor about the right nutrition and exercise for you.

Throughout its history, NIDILRR has funded research on osteoporosis. NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 1240 articles from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere on osteoporosis and related topics. If you would like more information on osteoporosis, please contact NARIC’s information specialists for assistance.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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