Osteoporosis is a disease where increased bone weakness increases the risk of a broken bone. It is the most common reason for a broken bone among the elderly.
Bones that commonly break include the vertebrae in the spine, the bones of the forearm, and the hip. Until a broken bone occurs there are typically no symptoms. Bones may weaken to such a degree that a break may occur with minor stress or spontaneously. Chronic pain and a decreased ability to carry out normal activities may occur following a broken bone.
Osteoporosis may be due to lower than normal bone mass and greater than normal bone loss. Bone loss increases after menopause due to lower levels of estrogen. Osteoporosis may also occur due to a number of diseases or treatments including alcoholism, anorexia, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and surgical removal of the ovaries.
Certain medications increase the rate of bone loss including some antiseizure medications, chemotherapy, proton pump inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and glucocorticosteroids. Smoking and too little exercise are also risk factors.
Osteoporosis is defined as a bone density of 2.5 standard deviations below that of a young adult. This is typically measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at the hip.
Prevention of osteoporosis includes a proper diet during childhood and efforts to avoid medications that cause the condition. Efforts to prevent broken bones in those with osteoporosis include a good diet, exercise, and fall prevention. Lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking and not drinking alcohol may help.
Biphosphonate medications are useful in those with previous broken bones due to osteoporosis. In those with osteoporosis but no previous broken bones they are less effective. A number of other medications may also be useful.
Osteoporosis becomes more common with age. About 15% of white people in their 50s and 70% of those over 80 are affected.
It is more common in women than men. In the developed world, depending on the method of diagnosis, 2% to 8% of males and 9% to 38% of females are affected. Rates of disease in the developing world are unclearAbout 22 million women and 5.5 million men in the European Union had osteoporosis in 2010.
In the United States in 2010 about eight million women and one to two million men had osteoporosis. White and Asian people are at greater risk. The word osteoporosis is from the Greek terms for "porous bones".