A wide array of conditions can weaken bone health. Bone health commonly worsens with old age, but since women have less bone tissue than men, they are more susceptible to bone issues. Osteoporosis, osteogenesis imperfecta and Paget’s disease are the most common bone diseases.
Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle – so brittle that a fall or even mild stress like bending can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), over 40 million Americans either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to bone loss. Osteogenesis imperfecta also causes weak bones, as well as weak muscles, brittle teeth and hearing loss, according to the NIH. It is an inherited condition.
Other bone diseases
Paget’s disease triggers bones to grow abnormally. It typically affects older people of Northern European descent, according to the NIH. Other medical conditions can also cause bone loss. This includes autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. Digestive and gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease may weaken bones, as well. Endocrine/hormonal disorders, blood disorders, nervous system disorders, and certain mental illnesses and cancer all have the potential to weaken bones.
Prevent and treat bone health diseases
According to the National Osteoporosis Society, bone loss can be prevented.
- Diet and exercise can help maintain bone health and lay the foundation for stronger bones that are better prepared to withstand over time.
- Calcium and vitamin D play a critical role in preventing bone loss. In fact, about 99 percent of the body’s calcium is located in bones and teeth.
- Weight-bearing exercises can also help strengthen bones, and include dancing, hiking, tennis, jogging and aerobics.
For people who have already sustained some bone loss, drugs called bisphosphonates (like Boniva) can help slow the progression of bone breakdown.