Osteoporosis weakens bones to the point that they can break easily. It is called a “silent disease” because people who develop it may not notice any changes until a bone breaks — usually a bone in the hip, spine, or wrist.
Bones are made of living tissue. To keep them strong, a healthy human body breaks down old bone and replaces it with new bone. Osteoporosis develops when more bone is broken down than replaced.
The inside of a bone looks something like a honeycomb. When someone has osteoporosis, the bone, which forms the “walls” of the honeycomb, get smaller, and the spaces between the bone grow larger. The outer shell of the bone also gets thinner. All of this makes a bone weaker.
In serious cases of osteoporosis, a simple motion such as a cough or minor bump can result in a broken bone, also called a fracture. People with osteoporosis also have a harder time recovering from broken bones, which can sometimes cause pain that does not go away. Broken hip and spine bones are especially serious, as these injuries can cause older adults to lose their mobility and independence.
To learn more about how osteoporosis is diagnosed, who’s at risk and how it’s treated, from the National Institute on Aging, CLICK HERE.