Definition

A medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

Causes

As people age, bone mass is lost faster than it is created. The more peak bone mass that was created in youth, the less likely osteoporosis will affect an individual as they age.

Statistics

  • Worldwide, osteoporosis causes 8.9 million fractures annually (1 every 3 seconds)
  • Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50
  • 24.5% of women over the age of 65 in the United States have osteoporosis in their femur or spine
  • 33% of older adults who suffer a hip fracture become physically impaired and lose their ability to live independently one year after the fracture.

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Gender (women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis)
  • History of eating disorder
  • Hormone levels (decreased sex hormones, thyroid hormones)
  • Low calcium levels
  • Race (Whites and Asians are at a higher risk)
  • Smaller body frame/size

Osteoporosis has also been associated with gastrointestinal surgery, steroids and other medications, medical conditions (celiac disease, IBD, kidney disease, cancer, lupus) and certain lifestyle choices.

Prevention

  • Exercise: get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity exercise weekly, and combine strength training with weight-bearing and balance exercises
  • Good nutrition: eat a diet rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin D
  • Maintain an appropriate body weight

Vaccines

The CDC recommends that all adults keep their vaccinations up to date. Childhood immunizations may wear off after time and need a “booster shot,” and you are at risk for other diseases as an adult.

All adults need:

  • Influenza vaccine (every year)
  • Tdap vaccine (if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Check with your doctor to see if there are other vaccines recommended for you.

COVID-19 and Osteoporosis

Having osteoporosis does not increase your risk of either contracting coronavirus or having serious complications; but staying fracture-free is critical for anyone with osteoporosis. Healthcare systems are over-stretched, with general recommendations urging people to avoid hospitals and doctor’s offices unless absolutely necessary.

Resources

Support Groups