Osteoporosis literally means "porous bones" and is a disease that causes low bone density, making bones fragile and more likely to break. It happens when bones lose critical nutrients like calcium and phosphorus that are required to make them strong. While osteoporosis affects all bones, the majority of bone fractures occur in the hip, wrist, and spine.
Osteoporosis can occur in people of any age or sex but it occurs most often in postmenopausal women. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) estimates that ten million people in the United States have osteoporosis and another 34 million have reduced bone mass called osteopenia that puts them at risk for osteoporosis. About twice as many women as men are affected by low bone mass and osteoporosis.
Continued on page 2: What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?