Synonyms: Brittle bones, Brittle bone disease
Medical Specialties: Family practice, Geriatrics, Internal medicine
Osteoporosis, literally ''porous bones," is a bone disease that occurs when excessive bone is lost, inadequate bone is produced, or both. Through a process called bone remodeling, bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. After age 35, bone breakdown occurs at a faster pace than bone buildup, with a net loss of bone mass.
Osteoporosis, sometimes called the ''brittle bone disease," occurs when bones become weak, especially as people age, and become prone to sudden, unexpected fractures. After menopause, the breakdown of bone also increases since estrogen, which protects against excess bone loss, declines dramatically.
Bones become weak and can fracture even during a minor fall, while sneezing, or from bumping into furniture. Fractures often occur in the hip, spine and wrist. Often, the fracture is the first indication of this condition, but some people notice they are losing height or their spine is curving, which are other potential signs of osteoporosis. A bone density test can evaluate bone health.