Osteoporosis affects some 28 million Americans – primarily women – and is the cause of 1.5 million fractures annually. One in two women and one in eight men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass following menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis.
Each year, there are:
300,000 hip fractures;
700,000 vertebral fractures;
250,000 wrist fractures and
300,000 fractures at other sites.
Osteoporosis is known as the “silent disease” because loss of bone density occurs without symptoms. Often, people may not even know they suffer from osteoporosis until they sustain a fracture. Collapsed vertebrae may initially be felt or seen as bad back pain, height loss, or spinal deformities such as stooped posture or kyphosis.
This disease occurs at a huge cost:
Osteoporotic fractures are estimated to cause expenditures of $13.8 billion each year.
- Breaking a bone as an adult could be a warning sign your bones are weak.
- Family members have had osteoporosis – your chances of getting osteoporosis increase to 60-80 percent.
- You do not get enough calcium.
- You smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
- You are thinner than normal.
- You have chronic medical problems – if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism (excessive production of thyroid hormones), hyperparathyroidism (a condition caused by excessive amounts of parathyroid hormone), diabetes or liver disease, your chances of having osteoporosis increase.
- Persistent back pain could be a signal you have a spinal fracture.
- You are shorter than you used to be.
If you have osteoporosis, there are medications to prevent and treat the disease and there are surgical procedures that can help relieve your discomfort. Your physician can help you determine which course of action is best for you.