What is Osteoporosis?

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, which means ''porous bones,'' is a condition in which the bones lose their mineral content and mass, and eventually become fragile and prone to fracture. Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the hip and spine are particularly vulnerable to fracture because they are under continual heavy stress. Most vertebral fractures (two-thirds) are symptomless and are only identified on X-rays for other reasons. Some spine and most hip fractures, however, require hospitalization and surgery and can result in reduced mobility, deformity, diminished height or permanent disability.

An estimated 10 million people over age 50 in the United States have osteoporosis, 80 percent of them women. Another 34 million people have osteopenia (low bone mass), which predisposes them to developing osteoporosis as they age. One in two women and about one in four men over age 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime.

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