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About Osteoporosis and Spinal Compression Fractures

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of the bone.

It happens when your body either loses too much bone, doesn’t make enough bone, or a combination of the two factors. When bones become weak, they can break from a minor incident. Sometimes, in serious cases, a simple sneeze or bump may result in a fracture.

Is osteoporosis serious?

Multiple vertebral fractures can result in chronic pain and disability, loss of independence, stooped posture and compression of the lungs and stomach. Nearly all vertebral fractures in otherwise healthy people are due to osteoporosis, and can occur from a minor impact, such as a bump or a fall, in those who suffer from this bone-weakening disease.

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?

People who have a spinal fracture often don’t realize that they may have osteoporosis, because the disease is symptomless until a fracture occurs.

How common is osteoporosis?

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis:

  • Affects approximately 9 million adults in the US
  • More than 38 million have low bone mass (indicated by T-scores between 1.0 and -2.5) Results in 700,000 vertebral fractures each year
  • In a recent study, it was found that the overall prevalence of osteoporosis and low bone mass were highest in Mexican Americans, followed by non-Hispanic Whites, and non-Hispanic Blacks. It is estimated 6.8 million non-Hispanic White, 0.4 million non-Hispanic Black, and 1.1 million Mexican American adults have osteoporosis; some 37.4, 3.2, and 4.3 million have low bone mass, respectively.
  • What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?
  • While women have a greater likelihood of having osteoporosis, men get osteoporosis too. Factors that increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, some of which are controllable and some which are not, include:

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

  • Age 50 and above
  • Being female
  • Being thin, low body weight, having a small frame
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Menopause
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Certain diseases


  • Anorexia or bulimia
  • A diet low in calcium
  • Long-term use of medications such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Certain medications
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