This is a disease that causes bone mineral density to decrease i.e. bones become porous, leading to an increased risk of fracture.
There are two main types of osteoporosis:
Primary - Affects elderly patients and is observed more so in females (with a ratio of 2:1).
Secondary - Can arise in patients of any age, affecting men and women equally. This may be due to malnutrition, medication or predisposing medical conditions.
Genetically, osteoporosis is multifactorial, meaning several genes are associated with its development - some of which are affected by environmental factors. Such modifiable environmental risk factors include: Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, malnutrition (particularly deficiencies of vitamin D and low dietary calcium and/or phosphorus), low body weight/anorexia, sedentary lifestyle.
The diagnosis of osteoporosis can be made using conventional radiography and by measuring the bone mineral density. Investigation will then be carried out to determine potential underlying causes e.g. using blood tests to identify chemical deficiency.