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This elderly woman had to be taken to the hospital last night. While getting out of the tub, she had a fall and broke her hip. Because her bones are so fragile, the woman probably broke her hip first, which then caused her to fall.

Like millions of people, the woman suffers from osteoporosis, a condition that leads to loss of bone mass.

From the outside, osteoporotic bone is shaped like normal bone. But the inside appearance of the bone is quite different. As people age, the inside of the bones becomes more porous, due to the loss of calcium and phosphate. The loss of these minerals makes the bones more prone to fracture, even during routine activities, like walking, standing, or bathing. Many times, a person will sustain a fracture before becoming aware of the presence of the disease.

Prevention is the best measure for treating osteoporosis by eating a recommended balanced diet including foods with sufficient amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. In addition, maintaining a regular exercise program as approved by a qualified health care professional will help to keep the bones strong.

Various medications can be used as part of the treatment for osteoporosis and should be discussed with a qualified health care professional.

Review Date 1/25/2023

Updated by: Neil J. Gonter, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University, NY and private practice specializing in Rheumatology at Rheumatology Associates of North Jersey, Teaneck, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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