Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become less dense, lose strength, and are more likely to break (fracture). Some people describe bones with osteoporosis as "Swiss cheese." Even the word, osteoporosis, is derived from the Greek osteo, meaning bones, and porosis, with holes. Osteoporosis happens mainly to women at midlife and later, but also can happen to men and children. In children, new bone forms more quickly than it breaks down so that bone is actually growing all the time. In adults, bone goes through a constant and normal process where new bone is formed and old bone is broken down simultaneously and at relatively even rates. When more bone is lost than is being formed, osteopenia and osteoporosis develop. Figure 1 compares normal bone with osteoporotic bone.
Was this article helpful?