The most common bone disease, which weakens bones in the body and spine, making them more likely to fracture. Bone loss can occur over many years before symptoms appear. Osteoporosis affects the elderly and post-menopausal women in particular.
Risk factors include:
- Drop in oestrogen after menopause
- Absence of menstrual periods for several years
- Lack of weight-bearing exercise
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Low calcium and vitamin D intake
- Low body weight
- Family history of the disease
The first serious symptom of the disease may be a fracture, anywhere in the body, with little or no trauma. When an unexplained spinal fracture occurs, it may be a sign that the disease is already advanced.
Other symptoms affecting the spine include:
- Loss of height over time
- Back and neck pain
- Stooped posture or kyphosis
- Drug treatment
- Exercise to help strengthen bones
Spinal surgery may be needed to treat small fractures in the vertebrae. Surgery can also strengthen the vertebrae to reduce the risk of future fractures.