Osteoporosis makes bones weak and more likely to fracture (break). In the U.S., half of adults age 50 or older have osteoporosis or are developing it. You may not know your bones are fragile until they break, since osteoporosis develops slowly and without symptoms. As many as one in three women older than 50 may experience an osteoporosis-related fracture.
Our bodies constantly replace old bone tissue with new growth until we stop getting taller. Once you’re in your thirties, you’re likely losing a small amount of bone tissue each year.
During and after menopause, most women lose bone quickly. In fact, you can lose up to 20% of your bone mass in the first few years after menopause. Your rate of bone loss depends on:
It’s never too early or too late to take steps to prevent osteoporosis or a broken bone.
Get regular bone density tests. Talk to your primary care doctor about the best schedule for you. For most women, the best time to screen for bone loss is during perimenopause. Do repeat testing on the same machine to allow for a comparison between past and current tests.
If you receive a diagnosis of osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend one or more of these treatments:
Types of medication include:
Physical and occupational therapists work with you to reduce your risk of bone injury based on your personal needs.
In cases of painful spine fractures, vertebroplasty injects bone cement into the fractured bone to stabilize it and relieve pain.
Bone mass gradually declines in response to aging and each person’s unique risk factors, including:
Osteoporosis can lead to:
Just as it’s never too early to start improving your bone health, it’s also never too late. Follow the lifestyle tips outlined on this page.
Osteopenia occurs when the bones are thinner than expected. Having osteopenia doesn’t mean you will get osteoporosis, but it does mean you’re at higher risk for fractures and should start taking actions to boost your bone health.