What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeletal system. This type of condition constitutes low bone mass, or the loss of the normal density of bone and the structural deterioration of the bone tissue. Osteoporosis quite literally means porous bone.

Bones are comprised of protein, collagen and calcium and are normally very dense in nature. Osteoporosis, a disorder of the skeleton causes the bone to be more compressible or sponge like. This type of structural deterioration of the bone tissue makes the bones more fragile and more susceptible to fracture.

Type 1

There are two types of Osteoporosis. Type I, or postmenopausal osteoporosis typically develops in women after menopause. This is because the amount of estrogen in the body is considerably decreased. The action of decreased estrogen leads to an increase of resorption of the bone.

Resorption is the dissolution or destruction of tissue and simply means that the bones begin to lose substance. Type 1 osteoporosis is far more common in women, than in men. Most often women between the ages of 50 and 70 develop this type of condition.

Type 2

Type II osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as senile osteoporosis typically affects those who are older. Women over 70 are thought to be twice as likely as men to develop this disease. While type I osteoporosis usually results in a decrease of the amount of trabecular or spongy bone, type II leads to the thinning of both the trabecular and cortical bone. The cortical, or compact bone is the dense outer surface of the bone and is normally very hard.

The trabecular or spongy bone is the inner layer and accounts for the majority of the interior of most bones. The main function of trabecular, or cancellous bone is to store minerals, provide protection for organs and support the body.

The structural deterioration of the bone tissue caused by osteoporosis is what causes the bones to be more fragile and predisposed to fracture. Osteoporosis causes bones to fracture or break more easily from minor falls or injuries which would not normally result in a break or fracture of otherwise healthy bones. Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis but most commonly it leads to fractures of the hip, wrists and spine.

Symptoms

Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as a silent disease because a person may be afflicted with it for many years without any symptoms. Minor fractures may even occur without any pain so they are not detected right away. Many do not become aware of their condition until they suffer a painful fracture.

It is extremely difficult to completely rebuild bone that has been weakened by osteoporosis. This is why early detection and timely treatment is extremely important. While there is no cure, steps may be taken to prevent, slow or even stop its progress. Early detection and treatment can help to prevent future bone loss. The goal of detection and prevention is to increase the strength and density of the bone, in doing so the risk of fractures can be significantly reduced.