What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes weakening of the bones in your body. Also called “brittle bone disease,” osteoporosis increases your chance of sustaining a broken bone.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones of your skeleton. Bones, like other tissues in your body, are living structures that constantly are changing. New bone is made and old bone is taken away. Osteoporosis develops when the pace of new bone formation cannot keep up with the loss of bone.

Testing your bone density — how strong your bones are — is the only way to know for sure if you have osteoporosis. One common test doctors use is called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA). DXA scanning focuses on two main areas — the hip and the spine. If you can’t test those, you can get a DXA scan on your forearm. These areas can give your doctor a good idea of whether you’re likely to get fractures in other bones in your body.

 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 Symptoms 

  • 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.

Osteoporosis: Are You at Risk?
Things that make osteoporosis more likely include: Age. Your bone density peaks around age 30. After that, you’ll begin to lose bone mass. So that’s all the more reason to do strength training and weight-bearing exercise — and make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D from your diet — to keep your bones as strong as possible as you get older. Gender. Women over the age of 50 are the most likely people to develop osteoporosis. The condition is 4 times as likely in women than men. Women’s lighter, thinner bones and longer life spans are part of the reason they have a higher risk. Men can get osteoporosis, too — it’s just less common. Family history. If your parents or grandparents have had any signs of osteoporosis, such as a fractured hip after a minor fall, you may be more likely to get it, too. Bone structure and body weight. Petite and thin women have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis. One reason is that they have less bone to lose than women with more body weight and larger frames. Similarly, small-boned, thin men are at greater risk than men with larger frames and more body weight.
  • 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.

 What Is Bone Densitometry? 
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.
 
What Happens During a DXA Scan?   The scan generally takes 10 to 20 minutes. It’s painless, and the amount of radiation you get from the X-rays the scan uses is low. Unlike some other types of tests, like MRIs or CT scans, you won’t have to lie inside a closed tunnel or ring. Instead, you’ll lie on an open X-ray table and try to stay still as the scanner passes over your body. When the test is over, you’ll be able to go home.