Osteoporosis means “porous bone". It affects one out of every four women over the age of 50. Normally, the inside of the bone looks something like a sponge. With osteoporosis, it is as if the holes in the sponge become larger and more numerous so the bones become weaker and are much more likely to break.
Everyone’s bones get weaker with age. In fact, we all begin to lose some bone as early as 30 years old. For women, menopause changes the picture dramatically. When women reach menopause, or “the change of life” (usually around 50 years of age), their estrogen levels go way down and their periods stop. This leads to the bones becoming thin and weak. This continues, painlessly, year after year and is not noticed until a bone breaks.
Osteoporosis is a serious disease leading to nearly 200,000 women fracturing a hip each year. One fifth of women who break a hip will die of complications within a year. Many of those women who do not die will require long term nursing home care. One fourth of women above the age of 60 have broken bones in their spines which may greatly limit daily activities and lead to serious deformation (commonly known as Dowager’s Hump) as well.
Osteoporosis can be detected by a DEXA or “bone density scan” and treated in its early phases. Bone density scans are recommended as part of preventative medical screening every two to five years, depending on each patient's medical history.
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