Osteoporosis weakens the bones when there is a loss in bone mass. This makes them more likely to break (fracture).
Osteopenia is the beginning of weakening of the bones. It precedes osteoporosis. Your body increases bone mass as you age, until around the age of 35. Building strong bones, especially before the age of 35, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis. A healthy lifestyle is also important for keeping bones strong to prevent osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease," because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a fracture. These are called fragility fractures. Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body, but fractures occur most often in the hip, wrist and spine. A fracture in the spine may cause severe back pain, loss of height or spinal deformities, such as stooped posture or dowager's hump.