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Osteoporosis is a disease that results in the loss of bone tissue. When bone
tissue is lost, the bones become brittle and break more easily.

The bone loss of osteoporosis often causes no signs. People may not know
that they have the disease until their bones become so weak that a sudden
strain, bump or fall causes a bone to break.

Bone loss that causes bones in the spine to collapse may be felt or seen as
severe back pain, loss of height, stooped posture or a hump.

Talk to your doctor about testing for osteoporosis. Your doctor may order
one of these tests:
• A heel ultrasound – This test looks for bone loss. You will need to take
your shoes and socks off. Small pads are placed on each side of your
heel. The test will take a few minutes and does not hurt.
• A bone density scan, also called DEXA – This x-ray test measures bone
density in the lower spine, hip or wrist. The test takes only a few minutes.
Do not wear clothing with metal zippers, snaps or under-wires. The
results of the scan are reported as the amount of bone loss.
• A blood test – This test checks hormone levels and looks for other
conditions that increase bone loss.
Your Care

Start at an early age to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Keep your bones
strong throughout your life. Treatments can help stop or slow down further
bone loss and bone breaks, but there is no cure.
• Eat a diet high in calcium or take calcium supplements each day.
For those 19-50 years of age, eat 3 servings or 1000 milligrams of
calcium each day.