Several of my friends have had falls recently where they have broken a bone. They were told they have osteoporosis but they were unaware of it until they broke a bone. What exactly is osteoporosis, and how do you know if you have it?
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones to the point where they break easily — most often bones in the hip, spine and wrist. Osteoporosis is called the "silent disease" because you may not notice any changes until a bone breaks. But your bones have been losing strength for many years.
Bone is living tissue. To keep bones strong, your body is always breaking down old bone and replacing it with new bone tissue. As people enter their 40s and 50s, more bone is broken down than is replaced. A close look at the inside of bone shows something like a honeycomb. When you have osteoporosis, the spaces in this honeycomb grow larger. And the bone that forms the honeycomb gets smaller. The outer shell of your bones also gets thinner. All of this loss makes your bones weaker.