A fifty-five year-old American woman named Jill went skiing several years ago. Although she was a good skier, she fell on a difficult hill. She attempted to get up, but could not move one leg. She was taken to a hospital, where doctors found she had broken a bone in her upper leg. And there was another discovery in the hospital. She had osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can make it hard for a person to stand up straight if the disease is untreated for a long time. When it has progressed very far, walking can be difficult. Severe osteoporosis in older adults can take away their independence.
Before people develop osteoporosis, they have a condition called osteopenia. Treatment can prevent this condition from becoming osteoporosis. Doctors agree that the best way to deal with osteopenia or osteoporosis is to find and treat it before the disease progresses. Bone damage need not be permanent. Drugs can help replace lost bone.
Another way to measure bone-density is called peripheral bone mineral density testing. It is often used in the United States to show people if they are in danger of osteoporosis. A moveable machine does the test.
Differences in bone mineral density among body parts are most often found in women who recently ended their childbearing years. The density may be normal at one place but low at another. Bone mineral density in the spine decreases first. A woman's bone mineral density becomes about the same in all parts of her body after she is seventy years old.