Who is Prone to Osteoporosis?

Posted on 09/22/2016

Osteoporosis affects 54 million Americans

The human femur is the skeletal superhero.  The bone, which extends from the hip to the knee, can resist a force of up to 1,800 to 2,500 pounds.  It is the strongest bone in the human body, although most bones are relatively strong, especially when people are young.

According to the National Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, The amount of bone tissue in the skeleton, known as bone mass, keeps growing until humans reach age 30.

As people age, their bodies naturally begin to lose bone mass. Osteoporosis, which actually means "porous bone," is a disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both. The bones can become weak, which can increase the chances of breaking from a fall. In severe cases, sneezing or minor bumps can break a bone.

About 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, and approximately one in two women and up to one in four men will break a bone due to osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.


Healthy bones when viewed under a microscope look like a honeycomb. Bones with osteoporosis, however, have holes that are much larger. When the bones become less dense, they weaken.

Who is prone to osteoporosis?

  • women 
  • older adults
  • petite, thin women
  • white and Asian women
  • people with a family history of the disease

Osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones each year, resulting in $19 billion in related costs.

Osteoporosis often is called a silent disease because people may experience bone loss without any pain. The condition is usually discovered after a fracture, which is too late!  According to the Mayo Clinic, possible symptoms include back pain caused by a fracture or fall, loss of height over time, a stooped posture or an unexpected bone break.

In addition to genetics, other factors can increase a person's chances of developing osteoporosis.

  • low estrogen levels in women
  • low testosterone levels in men
  • eating disorders
  • calcium deficiencies
  • Vitamin D deficiencies
  • lack of exercise
  • smoking
  • alcohol consumption
  • long-term steroid usage and other medications for other health issues

We evaluate and treat patients with osteoporosis.  We can refer patients for a bone density test (DEXA), which will test your bone strength and help to predict your risk of breaking a bone.  Our rheumatology specialists can counsel you on treatments and lifestyle changes, which can help you regain some bone strength, and reduce your risk for a fracture.

Suggested lifestyle changes to increase bone strength include:

  • a diet rich in calcium, including low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
  • eating foods with added calcium, including certain cereals, orange juice and breads
  • taking Vitamin D supplements
  • exercise, including walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, weight lifting, tennis and dancing

Talk to the staff about what we can do to help you maintain your bone health. We want you to be able to stay active for the rest of your life.