What is Osteoporosis

Published: February 13, 2014

Osteoporosis is a common disease that causes thinning and weakening of the bones. It is characterized by low bone density, decreased bone strength, and structural deterioration of bone tissue. The bone becomes thinned out and porous, decreasing the ability of bone to withstand typical forces that are applied in everyday living.

Osteoporosis can affect people of any age. However, 80% of people with osteoporosis are female and 55% of people or older have it. It is also more common in people that have celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, or kidney disease. Non-controllable risk factors for osteoporosis include being female, having a small frame, advanced age, hormone levels and genetics. There are also controllable risk factors for osteoporosis including cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, an inactive lifestyle, lack of weight-bearing exercise, certain medications (steroids, heparin), poor health, low weight, calcium-poor diet, and low vitamin D levels. Osteoporosis is best diagnosed with a painless specialized x-ray called DXA.

People with osteoporosis can develop a stooped posture and loss of height. Osteoporosis is responsible for 1.5 million fractures a year, including 300,000 hip fractures, 700,000 vertebral (backbone) fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures and 300,000 other fractures.

If you have osteoporosis, rehabilitation can help you stay healthy and decrease risk of fractures. A therapist can teach you proper posture and help you strengthen the muscles that maintain posture. They can help improve your balance and reduce your risk of falls, thereby decreasing risk of fractures. Therapists can also make suggestions to adjust your environment and protect you from falls.


The following Lutheran SeniorLife locations offer outpatient rehabilitation that may be helpful to you:

Passavant Community (724) 452-6080

St. John Specialty Care Center (724) 625-4849


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