Weak bones (osteoporosis)

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes loss of bone density, or bone mass, leaving bones thin and weak. These bones may break easily.

Bone is growing, living tissue. Old bone cells break down and new cells replace them. Bones are made of calcium, phosphorus and several other minerals. Calcium gives bones their strength and stiffness.

Without enough calcium, your bones become thin and fragile. Most people aren't aware they have osteoporosis until they have pain or break a bone.

Prednisone therapy increases your chances of developing this condition.

How to prevent osteoporosis

  • Have a bone mineral density test. This is an X-ray that can help your regular doctor tell if you are losing bone mass. This will help him or her tell if you are at risk for a bone fracture and when.
  • Eat a healthful diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. A healthful diet:
    • includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts
    • is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
    • You may need to take a calcium supplement. Talk with your regular doctor about what's right for you.
    • Do weight-bearing exercises (such as walking, lifting weights, aerobics or climbing stairs). These exercises help spur bone growth.
      • Try for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days.
      • If you are not used to exercise, talk with your regular doctor before starting an exercise program.
      • There are medicines that can help to "rebuild" bones. Talk with your regular doctor about what's right for you.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Care After Heart Transplant, cvs-ah-95405 (1/18)
First Published: 01/06/2013
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2018