What Causes Osteoporosis?
Your body constantly breaks down old bone and rebuilds it. This process is called remodeling. As you grow up, your body builds more bone than it removes. During childhood, your bones become larger and stronger. Peak bone mass happens when you have the most bone you will ever have, usually in your early to mid-30s.At a certain age, the bone remodeling process changes. New bone comes in at a slower rate. This slowdown leads to a drop in the amount of bone you have.
When bone loss becomes more severe, you have osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. But after many years, you may notice signs like back pain, a loss of height, or a stooped posture. For some people, the first sign they have of the disease is a broken bone, usually in the spine or hip.If osteoporosis becomes severe, the normal stress on bones from sitting, standing, coughing, or even hugging can cause painful fractures. After the first fracture, you’re more likely to get more.
For some people, the pain from a fracture may get better as the bone heals. But others will have long-lasting pain. You may feel stiff and have trouble being active.
- Broken bones. If you’ve had fractures before, your bones may not be as strong.
Ethnicity. Research shows that Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than women of other ethnic backgrounds. Hip fractures are also twice as likely to happen in Caucasian women as in African-American women.
Certain diseases. Some diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis raise the odds that you’ll get osteoporosis.
Some medications. Certain prescription medications -- for example, if you take steroids such as prednisone for a long time -- can also boost your odds of getting osteoporosis.
Smoking. It’s bad for your bones. To lower your risk of osteoporosis and fractures -- and many other health problems -- work with your doctor to kick this habit ASAP.
Alcohol. Heavy drinking can lead to thinning of the bones and make fractures more likely.
Bone densitometry is a test like an X-ray that quickly and accurately measures the density of bone. It is used primarily to detect osteopenia or osteoporosis, diseases in which the bone’s mineral and density are low and the risk of fractures is increased.