Osteoporosis is a disease that occurs when the body is unable to replenish bone as quickly as it is broken down, decreasing bone density and causing them to become weak and brittle. The bones may become so brittle that they fracture or even break easily. This can lead to back pain, a loss of height, or a hunched posture. However, it is also possible you may not experience symptoms of osteoporosis until you fracture or break a bone.
Bones, like other tissues in the body, are constantly being broken down and rebuilt on a microscopic level. The building blocks of tissues are derived from the food we eat, which is why nutrition is so important to living a healthy life. Calcium is especially important for bone growth, and a calcium deficiency over a period of many years can lead to osteoporosis. Bone growth outpaces the rate of breakdown when people are young and naturally decreases as they age, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is also associated with hormone imbalances, such as low sex hormone levels or too much thyroid hormone. Osteoporosis is more common in women, who tend to have thinner bones than men, but is especially common after menopause because the decrease in estrogen accelerates bone loss.
The risk for developing osteoporosis also increases with a number of diseases, including celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney or liver disease, cancer, and others.
A diet that includes plenty of calcium and protein, in addition to exercising regularly, is critical to having healthy bones. Your provider may also prescribe a number of medications to promote the rebuilding of bone.
Most fractures in the spinal cord heal over time, but in the event that the fracture fails to heal or your pain is disabling, your surgeon may recommend balloon kyphoplasty. Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to fill the cracks in bone with cement.