Who Definition of Osteoporosis

Who Definition of Osteoporosis

Who Definition of Osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease in which there is a decrease in the density of bone mass, or when the body produces little bone tissue, or when both go through. Thus, the bones become more porous, increases the number and size of the cavities or cells that exist inside them, they are more fragile, they resist the blows worse and they break more easily.

The result of this disease is that the bones are weakened and can be broken by a simple fall or, in serious cases when the disease is very advanced, the bones can be broken by soft blows or by simple sneezing.

The word Osteoporosis means "porous or pierced bone". If we saw a bone with a microscope, healthy bone would look like a honeycomb. In contrast, when osteoporosis occurs, the holes and gaps in that honeycomb would look much larger than in healthy bone. That is, bones with osteoporosis lost bone density or mass. As the bones become less dense, they become thinner, weaker and can break more easily.

Therefore, if you are 50 years old or older and have broken a bone, check with your doctor to get a bone density test to verify the conditions they are in.

It is known that about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and a low density of bone mass. This low density is what makes the risk of having osteoporosis greater. It is believed that 1 in 2 women, and 1 in 4 men over 50 years old, could break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Causes of Osteoporosis

In the interior of the bone numerous occur throughout life metabolic changes , alternating phases of destruction and bone formation. These phases are regulated by different hormones, physical activity, diet, toxic habits and vitamin D, among other factors.

Under normal conditions, a person reaches 30-35 years a maximum amount of bone mass ("peak bone mass"). From that moment, there is a natural loss of bone mass .

Women have more frequent osteoporosis for several reasons: their peak of bone mass is usually lower than that of men and with menopause bone loss is accelerated (postmenopausal osteoporosis).

There are many other causes of osteoporosis: alcoholism, drugs (glucocorticoids, hormone treatment used for the treatment of breast and prostate cancer ...), rheumatic inflammatory diseases , endocrine, liver, kidney failure, among others

Bone fractures with osteoporosis are more likely to occur in the hip, spine, or wrist, but other bones can also break. Osteoporosis can cause permanent pain, some patients lose height and when osteoporosis affects the bones of the spine, it can produce a stooped posture or a hump.

Osteoporosis can limit the ability to move and this leads to the isolation of the person or that is depressed. It has also been proven that twenty percent of the elderly who break a hip, die within a year by any of the complications related to the broken bone itself or related to surgery to repair it. Finally, many patients need long-term nursing care.


Osteoporosis is called a silent epidemic because it does not manifest symptoms until the loss of bone is so important that fractures appear. The most frequent fractures are the vertebral, hip and wrist fractures (Colles fracture or distal end of the radius). Hip fracture is especially important because it is considered a serious event because it requires surgical intervention, hospital admission and a loss of quality of life for the patient, even for a short period of time.


This disease mainly affects women after menopause, although it can also do so earlier or affect men, adolescents and even children. Specifically, in Spain, approximately 2 million women suffer from osteoporosis , with a prevalence in the postmenopausal population of 25% (1 in 4). It is estimated that this disease is responsible for about 25,000 fractures every year. Approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.


Although it is a silent disease, currently rheumatologists have a wide range of tools for early diagnosis and thus adapt the treatment, either to prevent the loss of bone mass or to combat osteoporosis.

There are life habits that can help improve bone quality such as: adequate calcium intake, physical exercise and no smoking. The specific amount of calcium varies with age, but many adults will need 1,000 to 1,500 mg per day. This intake can be made with natural foods rich in calcium (especially milk and its derivatives) or as supplements in the form of medicines (calcium salts). In this last case there should be a control of your doctor about the amount and the administration schedule.

In the same way, vitamin D is a fundamental substance for bone . Their daily needs are mainly achieved by the formation of it on the skin when it receives the effect of solar irradiation.

Osteoporosis Treatment

The goal of osteoporosis treatment is to reduce the number of fragility fractures.

As a generalized measure, it is recommended to maintain healthy lifestyle habits, such as a balanced diet rich in calcium , quitting tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol, as well as exercising daily with control to avoid falls. In addition, some people may require calcium and vitamin D supplements.

The preventive measures of osteoporosis that can be adopted in childhood, adolescence, youth and adulthood are aimed at achieving maximum bone mass (this usually occurs before the age of 30, since after that age the bone remodeling slows down and favors the decrease in bone density).

In postmenopausal women there are pharmacological and non-pharmacological measures that improve bone quality and slow down as much as possible the loss of bone mass.

In elderly people, measures to prevent the risk of falls play a fundamental role.

Non-pharmacological or preventive measures of osteoporosis

1. Proper diet rich in calcium

Daily lose calcium through urine and sweat. If the needs are greater than the contribution of the same, it will produce a decrease in the reserve, constituted by the bone fundamentally. Calcium is found mainly in milk and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt . Children should take at least 800 milligrams of calcium per day, adults 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and pregnant women 1,200 milligrams of calcium. One liter of milk contains approximately one gram of calcium element (a yogurt approximately 125 milligrams of calcium).

2. Vitamin D intake

Favors the absorption of calcium and its incorporation into bone. For most adults sun exposure and a balanced diet are sufficient to maintain adequate levels, but in elderly people who often go out on the street is often insufficient. Vitamin D needsrange between 400 and 800 IU per day. Milk is the largest source of vitamin D contributed by the diet, a liter of milk contains approximately 400 IU of vitamin D.

3. Avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol

The abandonment of alcohol and smoking is recommended, since it accelerates the loss of bone mass by decreasing the capacity for calcium absorption.

4. Do not overdo caffeine

This substance has a diuretic effect that makes the excretion of calcium through urine higher than normal. Try to moderate the consumption of coffee and other beverages that contain it.

5. Daily physical exercise

The daily practice of exercise , such as walking 20 minutes every day, increases bone mass and decreases the risk of fractures. Also, to improve the balance and prevent falls can be practiced sports such as taichi or yoga - although certain positions should be avoided because of the risk of injury.