Osteoporosis : Symptoms, Cause, Risk Factor, Fact and Figure


What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bone characterized by a decrease in the density of bone, decreasing its strength and leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder.



It is a condition of the bones, where the bones become thin, brittle, and break easily. Approximately 200 million people in the world suffer this condition. Osteoporosis occurs due to the combined effect of low bone density and disintegration of the internal microarchitecture of the bone. Fractures are most often observed in the bones of the wrist, hip, and the spine. However, the condition affects other bones as well. Osteoporosis results in a change in bone mineral density and affects the quality of the bone. Bone density is the concentration of mineral per unit volume or area of the bone. It includes a combination of bone mass and quantity of bone loss. Older people, especially women who go through menopause, are invariably at risk for osteoporosis. However, it is now understood that adolescents and children who do not show appropriate bone growth tend to suffer osteoporosis at an early age. Depending on the extent of the fragility of the bone, individuals may develop fractures from mild actions such as coughing, bending, falls, bumps, or lifting.

Osteoporosis is observed more frequently in Asian men and women as well as non-Hispanic white men and women. On the other hand, Hispanic women and African-American women show a lower risk of osteoporosis.

According to recent research Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.


There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, patients may not be aware of their osteoporosis until they suffer a painful fracture. The symptom associated with osteoporotic fractures usually is pain you may have other signs and symptoms that include:

Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra

 Loss of height over time

A stooped posture

A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected

Causes and Risk Factors:

Osteoporosis occurs when the rate of bone loss is higher than the rate of bone formation. This condition may also occur due to other causes. Following are some of the main causes of osteoporosis:


Optimal bone mass
Hormone levels


Alcohol consumption
Quality of the bone

Genetic predisposition
Diseases and medications
Body size

The risk factors in males and females are different.

Men continue producing testosterone into old age, but the risk of osteoporosis is increased in men with low levels of testosterone, in around half of men, the exact cause of low testosterone levels is unknown, but known causes are use of certain medications, such as oral corticosteroids, alcohol misuse, hypogonadism (a condition that causes abnormally low testosterone levels).

In females an early menopause (before the age of 45), a hysterectomy (removal of the womb) before the age of 45, particularly when the ovaries are also removed absent periods for more than six months as a result of over exercising or too much dieting


Changes in nutrition, lifestyle and fall prevention Calcium and vitamin D supplementation have been shown to increase BMD Lifestyle. Intervention for osteoporosis includes regular weight-bearing exercise and avoidance of unhealthy behavior, such as: avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol.


Patients with low BMD and high risk for falling may benefit from additional measures Oral analgesics for pain on a regular schedule can be implemented. Pain-relieving modalities such as moist hot packs and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation should also be considered.



A comfortable mechanical support for the spine and, in some cases, a thoracic orthosis may need to be prescribed.

Osteoporosis Facts and Figures:

Osteoporosis is a major public health concern worldwide and affects an estimated 200 million people.

Osteoporosis makes the bones more fragile and the fractures occur most commonly in the vertebral column, rib, hip and wrist.

Osteoporosis has no symptoms but is responsible for over 80% of all fractures in people who are over the age of 50 years.

Both men and women start losing one percent of their bone mass after the age of 35.

Fractures due to osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.

Thirty seven per cent of men and 28% of women who sustain a hip fracture will die within a year.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include advancing age, being a woman, early menopause, low body weight and a history of fracture after 40 years of age.

When women reach menopause bone loss can accelerate and cause osteoporosis because estrogen, which helps their bones to absorb calcium, begins to decline.

Hip fractures due to osteoporosis consume more hospital bed days than stroke, diabetes, or heart attack in some of the developed countries.

Regular exercise, quitting smoking, a diet sufficiently rich in calcium and Vitamin D and spending 15 to 20 minutes in the sun everyday can prevent osteoporosis.

Latest Publication and Research on Osteoporosis


  • Melton LJ III, Chrischilles EA, Cooper C, Lane AW, Riggs BL. Perspective: how many women have osteoporosis? J Bone Miner Res 1992;7:1005-10.
  • Cummings SR, Black DM, Rubin SM. Lifetime risks of hip, colles’, or vertebral fracture and coronary heart disease among white postmenopausal women. Arch Intern Med 1989;149:2445-8.

Written By:

DEEPTIDeepti Rawat 

Trainee Medical Coder, Delhi