Osteoporosis – FAQ

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is low bone density, also called brittle bone. Bones become thinner and brittle; a small injury can make the bone break.

How do we develop this?

Throughout the life, old bone is removed (resorption) and new bone is added (formation) to the skeleton. During childhood and teenage years, new bone is added faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. Bone formation continues at a pace faster than resorption until maximum bone density is reached at around the age of 25 years. After that age, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed bone formation. Bone loss is most rapid in the first few years after menopause. Osteoporosis develops when bone resorption occurs too quickly or if replacement occurs too slowly.

Why do we stoop forward with Osteoporosis?

Loosing height is very common and used to be considered as normal. Now we know we stoop forward because we loose height and back bones (vertebra) get crushed due to weakness. This is called Osteoporosis or brittle bone disease. This is due to low bone mass and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist.

What are the symptoms of Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a silent disease. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or a simple fall causes a fracture. Collapsed vertebral fracture may present with severe back pain and loss of height.

How do we diagnose Osteoporosis?

X-ray is not a good test for osteoporosis, by the time X-ray will detect it will be too late. Also X-ray can not quantify Osteoporosis. We need to see the bone density; this is done by a test called DEXA Scan. This is painless, does not require injection, and takes around 30 minute to finish.

Is it common with us in India?

Osteoporosis in India has gained relatively little attention until recently. It is likely 30-40% of people above the age of 50 years in India have it. Also this is happening around 10 years earlier than people in the west. In the west women are more affected but it seems in India it is equally common in men.