You probably think of your bones as strong and solid, but that’s only half right. Our bones are strong, but not solid. Think of them as being made of a tiny mesh. They have small spaces, or pores, between strands of calcium and other minerals that make up the bones mass. Because of this construction, bones are lightweight but still very strong.
Bone is a living organ, and during our lifetime our body is constantly building bone, breaking it down, and building it again to keep it healthy and strong. While we’re young, the building process outdoes the breaking down process so bone mass increases. By the time we’re 30, our bones start to lose mass because the breaking down outdoes the building process. This process weakens the bone and increases the risk of broken bones or fractures. If you have small amounts of bone loss, you may be diagnosed with a condition called “Osteopenia”, which you can think of as pre or early osteoporosis. This condition puts you at a higher risk of broken bones and for developing osteoporosis.
So what is Osteoporosis? It is a more serious condition where the bones have lost enough mass to make them more fragile or brittle, and easy to break. The complications from broken bones can be life changing. The National Osteoporosis Foundation says that 6 months after a hip fracture, only 15% of patients can walk across a room unaided and of those over 50 years old, one-quarter die within a year.
Osteoporosis usually affects older adults, because the loss of bone mass accumulates over time. But, it can happen at any age, and thankfully it can be prevented. Osteoporosis is often called a silent condition because there can be only a few, if any signs or symptoms.