Osteoporosis is a chronic condition that significantly increases the risk of fractures, especially in menopausal women. As a top-rated gynecology practice, Northwest Women’s Center provides bone density testing and osteoporosis treatment to slow bone loss in women throughout the Houston, TX, region.
Osteoporosis Q & A
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes the bones to become brittle and weak, significantly increasing the risk of fractures. It occurs when bone tissue is not replaced at a normal rate, resulting in a decline in bone mass or “thickness.” People with severe osteoporosis can develop stress fractures even from minor activities like walking, sneezing, standing up or rolling over in bed. Any bone can be affected, but the most common sites of fracture are the hips, legs, and spine.
What causes osteoporosis?
As we age, the normal bone replacement cycle can slow down; in fact, everyone begins to lose some bone mass beginning at about age 35. In some people, this process is much faster and more severe, especially in menopausal women whose hormone levels have declined. The specific cause of osteoporosis is not known, but several risk factors have been identified, including:
- older age
- hormonal decline or imbalance
- sedentary or inactive lifestyle
- thyroid disease and some other chronic and metabolic diseases
- family history of osteoporosis
Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, with women losing as much as 50% of their bone mass during their lifetimes and men typically losing between 20% and 30%.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Osteoporosis can be diagnosed using a simple, noninvasive and painless test called a bone density test. This test uses x-rays to measure the mass of bone in a specific part of the body to evaluate how much bone tissue has been lost. Bone density testing can also be used to manage treatment of patients who have osteoporosis.
How is osteoporosis treated?
Osteoporosis can be managed with medications, including hormone replacement therapy to help restore some of the hormones lost as a result of menopause. It’s also very important to quit smoking, and leading a more active lifestyle and consuming more foods high in vitamin D and calcium may also help. People who have osteoporosis should see their doctor regularly to make sure their condition stays under control so they can avoid fractures.