What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis

First, the good news: osteoporosis is a condition that is both preventable and treatable if caught in time. However, the bad news is that there is not enough awareness of the opportunities for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and too many people, mostly women over the age of 50, suffer significant illness, deformity and sometimes death from this condition.

Osteoporosis itself does not cause back pain. However, osteoporosis can weaken the vertebral body (spine) so that it can no longer withstand normal stress or a minor trauma (e.g. a fall), resulting in a fracture. In fact, a fracture is typically the first outward sign of the disease, and advanced osteoporosis is potentially very painful and disabling.

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It is a fairly well known fact that osteoporosis is one of the most common conditions in the US. Approximately 8 million women and 2 million men suffer from this syndrome. Another 34 million have low bone mass and are thus at increased risk for osteoporosis. Some key statistics include1:

  • Approximately 1.5 million people suffer from an osteoporotic (caused by osteoporosis) fracture each year. An estimated 700,000 of them experience vertebral compression fractures (spinal fractures).
  • From age 50 on, one in every two women and one in four men will sustain some type of osteoporosis-related fracture.
  • An average of 24% of hip fracture patients aged 50 and over die in the year following their fracture.