Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Osteoporosis is caused by the body's inability to produce enough new bone or when too much old bone is absorbed by the body (or a combination of both).

The leading causes of osteoporosis are a drop in estrogen in women at the time of menopause and a drop in testosterone in men. Women over age 50 and men over age 70 have a higher risk for osteoporosis. It is estimated that 1 in 5 American women over 50 years of age suffer from osteoporosis.

Risk factors include smoking, calcium deficiencies in your diet, low body weight, family history, overconsumption of alcohol and absence of menstrual cycle for long periods of time.

Other causes include:

  • Being confined to a bed
  • Chronic rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease and eating disorders
  • Taking corticosteroid medications (prednisone, methylprednisolone) every day for more than 3 months, or taking some antiseizure drugs
  • Hyperparathyroidism


  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Fractures with little or no trauma
  • Loss of height (as much as 6 inches) over time
  • Lower back pain due to fractures of the spinal bones
  • Neck pain due to fractures of the spinal bones
  • Stooped posture or kyphosis, also called a "dowager's hump"


Learn more about the medications used for treatments:
Boniva®, Forteo®Prolia®Reclast®