Osteoporosis is a condition that decreases bone integrity and strength. More common in aging men and women, one the first—and only—signs that osteoporosis is present is a fractured hip. In order to learn more, let’s go over some osteoporosis-related physiology and anatomy, causes, symptoms, and preventative measures.

Related Physiology


Bones are made up of an intricate combination of elastic fibers and hard minerals. Because bone is living tissue, it’s constantly breaking down and reforming. From birth to around age 30, bone reformation occurs at a greater rate than the breakdown of bone.  However, from age 30 and onward, bone reformation equals to or is less than bone breakdown.  Because of this, osteoporosis (the weakening of bone), can develop.  Poor nutrition, including dieting and smoking and decrease peak bone mass or the maximum strength of ones bones in their late 20’s. 

osteoporosis hip

Illustration 1- Healthy vs. osteoporotic bone

Causes and Symptoms

Osteoporosis can occur at any time, but its associated signs and symptoms (mainly a fractured hip or spinal vertebrae) don’t show up until the bone has reached the point where it’s fragile and weak. People most at risk are:

  • Post-menopausal women, especially women with early menopause
  • Individuals with a family history of osteoporosis
  • Underweight individuals
  • Overweight individuals
  • Individuals who have taken corticosteroids for a prolonged period of time (>3 months)
  • Smokers

Once osteoporosis has reached the point where it causes a hip fracture, treating the disease, which is in its final stages, is difficult. Thus, preventative measures, should be taken early in the early stages.

Osteoporosis-Related Hip Fractures

The hip is a ball and socket joint composed of the head of the femur and the acetabulum of the pelvis. It’s one of the body’s largest joints and an important supporting structure. Osteoporosis can cause the femur and/or pelvis to fracture, which disrupts the integrity of the joint. If patients are healthy enough, surgical intervention is used to restore anatomy and function.

Illustration 2- The hip and lower back are the most common areas affected by osteoporosis

Prevention

Prevention of osteoporosis should occur as early as possible. Proper diet and a balanced, healthy lifestyle are the easiest and most effective measures. Consuming a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is recommended. As is resistance (weight training) and non-resistance (jogging, cycling, playing sports, etc.) exercise.

Learning More About Osteoporosis

The best resource for learning more about preventing and treating osteoporosis is an orthopedic specialist. Their knowledge, training, and skills are used to educate patients and, if necessary, repair fractures. If you or someone you know wants to talk to a specialist, please contact one of our 5 Long Island offices. Making an appointment is easier than ever—we’ll get you in ASAP.

At Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, our prestigious Hip Program is led by Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Richard McCormack.  Dr. McCormack attended Harvard University where he was captain of the two-time national championship winning Harvard Lightweight Rowing team. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry.  He completed his sports medicine fellowship training at the Lenox Hill Hospital where Dr. McCormack served as the assistant team physician for the New York Jets, New York Islanders, Hunter College, and the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, allowing him to gain experience taking care of a range of injuries and athletes across different levels of competition.