What is osteoporosis?

Calcium is needed for bone maintenance and bone building. When there is not enough calcium, and as we age, the bones lose their bone mass, making them increasingly brittle. This refers to osteoporosis.


Osteoporosis means that bone density decreases or is disturbed. This makes the bones less strong and there is a greater risk of breaking the bones. This applies in particular to the spine, hip, wrist, upper arm and pelvis. The risk of fractures is higher at a later age, especially when you are over 75 years old.


From the age of 50, the chance is one in two for women, and one in five for men. This concerns the chance of experiencing at least one bone fracture from this age onwards as a result of osteoporosis. This entails enormous costs for healthcare, namely around 30 billion euros in Europe alone.


Osteoporosis is not visible, but can be measured in research. Mineral density (BMD or “bone mineral density”) is measured by X-ray absorption, where the BMD must be 2.5 standard deviations lower than normal to receive a diagnosis.

Investigations to exclude secondary cause of osteoporosis

  • Measurement of the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets
  • Liver and kidney function tests
  • Bone function tests (e.g. calcium)
  • Urine test for serum immunoglobulins and paraprotein
  • Thyroid function tests

Although osteoporosis cannot really be recognized, there are symptoms that are often seen with the condition and can indicate it. These are back pain (particularly the lower part), pain in the hand joints, and bone fractures.


  • Good nutrition (not too many proteins and sugars) with sufficient vitamin D and calcium
  • Sufficient exercise or sport
  • At least fifteen minutes a day in sunlight

However, it is in any case the case that bone mass starts to decrease after the age of forty or fiftieth (the mass reaches its highest point around the age of 20-30). The biggest cause is therefore aging, because osteoclasts then cause the breakdown of bone and less bone formation takes place by the osteoblasts. In addition, there is often a vitamin D deficiency and hyperparathyroidism in the elderly.There is also a role for smoking, less exercise (in the elderly), more than three glasses of alcoholic drinks per day, long-term use of medications such as prednisone and hydrocortisone, and less production of IGF-1.Sometimes you have a greater risk anyway, because it can also be genetically determined.

In women

  • Decrease in estrogens after menopause


In men

  • Deficiencies in testosterone and estrogen production (especially after the age of seventy)



Medication can be used, such as hormone supplements, to prevent bone loss. Strontium ranelate prevents bone breakdown and also promotes bone formation. Another form is parathyroid hormones. In addition, there is a large list of medications that are useful and effective.In addition, one can also prevent falls, as this is the biggest cause of bone fractures. People with osteoporosis may want to reduce their sleep aids and tranquilizers, such as benzodiazepines. In addition, it must be ensured that sufficient vitamin D and calcium is produced and consumed. Exercise and the reduction of smoking behavior can also be encouraged. The same applies to the decrease in alcohol consumption.Finally, physiotherapy and pain relief are offered, as well as the use of aids such as a walker and hip protectors.


Prevention of osteoporosis is very much in line with the causes and treatment.

  • Exercise
  • Good nutrition (especially calcium/lime and vitamin D, in sea fish such as herring and mackerel, margarine, low-fat margarine and butter)
  • At least fifteen minutes of exposure to sunlight per day
  • Fall prevention

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