Osteoporosis means porous bones. It is a disease that thins and
weakens the bones to the point that they become fragile and break easily. Women
and men with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.
You can't "catch" osteoporosis or give it to someone else. It is a
skeletal disorder characterized by compromised bone strength predisposing to an
increased risk of fracture. Bone strength reflects the integration of two main
features: bone density and bone quality. Osteoporosis is the most common of the
bone diseases that affect Americans. Although it is the underlying cause of
most fractures in older people, the condition is silent and undetected in many
cases until a fracture occurs.
is a major health risk for 28 million Americans. In the United States today, 10
million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone
mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease. American women are four
times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. One out of every two women
and one in eight men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her
or his lifetime.
Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures
annually, including 300,000 hip fractures, approximately 700,000 vertebral
(spinal) fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures, and more than 300,000 fractures at
other sites. In the presence of osteoporosis, fractures can occur from normal
lifting and bending, as well as from falls. Furthermore, osteoporotic
fractures, particularly vertebral fractures, can be associated with disabling