Osteoporosis is a disease of bone that leads to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis the bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced, bone microarchitecture is disrupted, and the amount and variety of proteins in bone is altered. The term “established osteoporosis” includes the presence of a fragility fracture. Given its influence in the risk of fragility fracture, osteoporosis may significantly affect life expectancy and quality of life.
Osteoporosis can be prevented with lifestyle changes and sometimes medication; in people with osteoporosis, treatment may involve both. Lifestyle change includes exercise and preventing falls; medication includes calcium, vitamin D, bisphosphonates and several others. Fall-prevention advice includes exercise to tone deambulatory muscles, proprioception-improvement exercises; equilibrium therapies may be included. Exercise with its anabolic effect, may at the same time stop or reverse osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a component of the frailty syndrome.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis itself has no specific symptoms; its main consequence is the increased risk of bone fractures. Osteoporotic fractures are those that occur in situations where healthy people would not normally break a bone; they are therefore regarded as fragility fractures. Typical fragility fractures occur in the vertebral column, rib, hip and wrist.
As osteoporosis progresses, the vertebrae weaken and narrow, which can make the patient shorter and cause a severely rounded upper back (“dowager’s hump”).
A vertebral compression fracture has a wedged-shaped appearance. The front of the vertebra has cracked and shortened while the back remains intact.