Alternative Names

Thin bones

Definition of Osteoporosis

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

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease.


There are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

Signs and tests

Bone mineral density testing (specifically a densitometry or DEXA scan) measures how much bone you have. Your health care provider uses this test to predict your risk for bone fractures in the future. For information about when testing should be done, see .


The goals of osteoporosis treatment are to:

Expectations (prognosis)

Medications to treat osteoporosis can help prevent fractures, but vertebrae that have already collapsed cannot be reversed.


A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (11/23/2009). – 1/4/2010

Bone density scan
Hip fracture
Vitamin D source
Calcium benefit
Calcium source
Bone-building exercise
Changes in spine with age

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