Osteoporosis is a very common disease that is usually ignored. It is a condition where the bones lose their strength, resulting in fragile bones. Osteoporosis literally means “Porous bones” and the word is derived from Greek. The term “osteoporosis” and recognition of its pathological symptoms is usually attributed to French pathologist Jean Lobstein. The chances of being diagnosed with osteoporosis increases with age. Osteoporosis is a disease which decreases the bone density and increases the risk of bone fracture. It is most common amongst elder people, i.e. people over 50, and a common reason for broken bone among them. Osteopenia is a lesser degree of bone loss than osteoporosis but just as serious.  Worldwide, osteoporosis affects about 200 million women. 1 in 3 women & 1 in 5 men are affected by osteoporosis. The most commonly broken bones are the bones of the back, hip and forearms. It is more common in women, post-menopause, than men. There are no symptoms until a bone actually breaks. Osteoporosis weakens the bones to such an extent that even minor stress on the bones can break them. Bone density normally accumulates during childhood and reaches a peak by the age of 25. Bone density is maintained for about 10 years after that. After the age of 35, both men and women will normally lose 0.3%-0.5% of their bone density per year as part of the aging process. Normal bone is composed of protein, collagen, and calcium- all of which are important to give strength to your bones. Women are more affected by this disease post menopause due to the lack of estrogen. Five to ten years after menopause, women can suffer up to 2%-4% bone density loss. This accelerated bone loss after menopause is the main reason for osteoporosis in women above 50. pic Over the years, lower back pain can cause loss of height and result in hunched upper back, often called a “dowager hump” because it is commonly seen in elderly women. Osteoporosis can be a recognized complication of specific diseases and disorders. Fractures are the most common part of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can be caused due to a number of reasons including lack of exercise, heavy drinking, vitamin D deficiency, tobacco smoking, malnutrition, excess drinking of soft drinks, low calcium intake, etc. Fractures of the long bones may cause immobility and may need surgery to fix the fracture. Fractures, if not tended to immediately, may cause serious damage, and even result in death in some extreme cases. But osteoporosis is not usually lethal. Chronic pain and decreased ability to carry day-to-day activities may occur after bone breaks. Those with a family history of osteoporosis are at an increased risk from the disease. Osteoporosis can be prevented. Excessive tobacco smoking and high alcohol consumption have been linked with osteoporosis. Ceasing the habit of smoking and moderate intake of alcohol is recommended to prevent this disease. Prescribed medication helps keep osteoporosis in control.  The goal of treatment is to prevent bone loss and in turn prevent fractures. Exercises like Aerobics, weight bearing, and resistance exercises can help all maintain or increase BMD in postmenopausal women. So the next time you have extreme backache or a fracture, please go to the doctor ASAP!