Synonyms: Brittle bones, Brittle bone disease

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Geriatrics, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

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.

In Our Own Words

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.

Relevant Conditions
  • Low bone density
  • Menopause
  • Vertebral fractures
  • Chronic kidney disease
Side Effects
  • Loss of height
  • Curving of spine
Share this article
  • The Cleveland Clinic. "Osteoporosis." Disorders Aug. 2012. http://my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • The Cleveland Clinic. Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease. Aug. 2012. http://my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • National Osteoporosis Foundation. "What is Osteoporosis?" 2013. http://www.nof.org. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Calcium and Bone Health." Nutrition for Everyone. http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed Aug. 2013.
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