What is Osteoporosis and what are its effects?

Osteoporosis is a condition which is featured by a reduction in the thickness of bone, diminishing its quality leading to delicate bones. Osteoporosis literally means pores in bone, similar to a sponge. It weakens the bone resulting in periodic fractures (breaks) in the bones. Osteopenia is a state of bone that is somewhat less thick than typical bone yet not to the level of bone in osteoporosis.

Typical bone is made out of protein, collagen, and calcium. Bones that are influenced by osteoporosis can break (crack) with the moderately minor damage that ordinarily would not make a bone fracture. The break can be either through splitting (as in a hip crack) or crumbling (as in a pressure crack of the vertebrae of the spine). The spine, hips, ribs, and wrists are basic areas of bone fractures from osteoporosis in spite of the fact that osteoporosis-related breaks can happen in any skeletal bone.

Factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis are :

  • Diet low in calcium

  • The family history of osteoporosis

  • Cigarette smoking, Excessive alcohol consumption, Lack of exercise

  • Malnutrition and malabsorption, especially associated with chronic inflammation or bowel diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or liver diseases

  • Low estrogen levels in women (which may occur in menopause or with early surgical removal of both ovaries or chemotherapy or amenorrhea)

  • Low testosterone levels in men (hypogonadism)

  • Hyperthyroidism, a condition wherein too much thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland (as in Grave's disease)

  • Hyperparathyroidism is a disease wherein there is excessive parathyroid hormone production by the parathyroid gland. It maintains blood calcium levels by removing calcium from the bone. In untreated hyperparathyroidism, excessive parathyroid hormone removes a lot of calcium from the bone leading to osteoporosis.

  • During vitamin D deficiency, adequate amounts of calcium from the diet are not absorbed leading to osteoporosis.

  • Certain medications can cause osteoporosis like long-term use of heparin (anticoagulant), antiseizure medicine and oral corticosteroids.

  • Inherited disorders of connective tissue like osteogenesis imperfecta, homocystinuria, skin diseases.

Osteoporosis can be present without any symptoms for decades because it doesn't show any symptoms until bone breaks (fractures).

Effects of Osteoporosis

  • Fractures of the spine (vertebra) can cause severe "band-like" pain that radiates from the back to the sides of the body. Over the years, repeated spinal fractures can lead to chronic lower back pain as well as loss of height and/or curving of the spine due to the collapse of the vertebrae. The collapse gives individuals a hunched-back appearance of the upper back, often called a "dowager hump" because it is commonly seen in elderly women.

  • Osteoporotic bone fractures are responsible for agony, diminished personal satisfaction, lost workdays, and incapability. Up to 30% of patients enduring a hip crack will require long-term nursing-home care. Elderly patients can show pneumonia and blood clusters in the leg veins that can reach the lungs (aspiratory embolism) because of delayed bed rest after the hip crack.

  • Smoking one pack of cigarettes for every day for the duration of grown-up life would itself be able to prompt loss of 5%-10% of bone mass. Smoking cigarettes diminish estrogen levels and can prompt bone misfortune in ladies before menopause and furthermore prompt prior menopause. In postmenopausal ladies, smoking is connected with the expanded danger of osteoporosis.


  • Intake of calcium and vitamin D rich diet.

  • Stopping cigarette smoking, reducing liquor consumption and exercising frequently.

  • Drugs include alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), raloxifene (Evista), ibandronate (Boniva), calcitonin (Calcimar).