What Is Osteoporosis and How Does It Affect You? Normal bone density and osteoporosis-affected bone are depicted in this illustration. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes the bones to become brittle, weak, and easily broken. Osteoporosis is caused by a decrease in the mineralization and strength of the bones over time.

Osteoporosis Causes:

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become fragile and increase the risk of fractures. Osteoporosis liter or spongy bones located at the ends of long bones connected to joints. Osteoporosis occurs when cortical bones become partly or completely depleted, resulting in a decrease in bone mass and density over time. It often affects women after menopause due to their lack of estrogen that plays a role in stimulating bone formation. Osteopenia is considered a precursor to osteoporosis so it is important to diagnose early and take preventative measures before Osteoporosis progresses.

Osteoporosis Affects:

Osteoporosis affects an estimated 44 million people in the United States—28 million women and 16 million men. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will suffer at least one osteoporotic fracture. Osteoporosis occurs most frequently in Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis is less likely to occur in African Americans because they have higher bone mineral density than whites at all ages. Osteopenia is said to affect 54 million Americans, which includes those with osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Types:

Osteoporosis results from a disturbance in the normal metabolism of bone tissue. There are two types of bone tissue: cortical or compact bones that form the structure of vertebrae (backbone), pelvis, lower limbs, ribs, etc.; and trabecular or spongy bones that form the inner structure of vertebrae (backbone), pelvis, ribs, etc. Osteoporosis is said to occur when trabecular bone tissue begins destroying itself and causes it to degenerate over time. Osteocytes aid in the production of new bone tissue by supplying osteoblasts with hormones such as estrogen and calcitonin (osteocytes also help maintain bone density). Osteoclasts aid in preventing self-destruction of skeletal tissue by breaking down old or damaged bone cells and causing it to be absorbed back into the bloodstream. Osteoclasts are considered beneficial because they stimulate osteoblastic activity and encourage new bone formation, but when too many osteoclasts resorb too much bone tissue (osteoclasts break down bone tissue) it causes Osteoporosis. Osteocytes are said to play a critical role in Osteoporosis because they consume collagen, which makes up the fibers that link individual bones together. Osteocytes also aid osteoblasts in producing new bone cells, which can cause Osteoporosis when Osteocytes are destroyed too frequently. Osteoclasts and Osteocytes begin to deteriorate or die if Osteoporosis is not diagnosed early on, preventing Osteoporosis from even occurring.