What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is weakening of the bone mass that occurs when your bones lose calcium. About 44 million people in the United States are at risk of developing this disease, which is responsible for more than 2 million broken bones annually. The disease Osteoporosis is most common in women who have experienced menopause, but older men are also at risk. Although this disease is lifelong condition, effective treatments can keep it from getting worse.

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Changes in women’s hormones after menopause increase the risk of osteoporosis. After menopause, women produce less estrogen, which helps bones stay strong. Low levels of estrogen weaken the bone. Getting too little calcium and vitamin D in your diet can also contribute to this disease. Other causes include:

  • Smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Certain diseases and medications
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries, which reduces estrogen levels
  • Intense exercise, such as marathon running, which reduces estrogen levels
  • Long periods of bed rest during serious illness

Although back pain can be an early symptom of osteoporosis, there are often no symptoms of osteoporosis until a bone breaks after a fall. Often, the spine collapses on itself over time and causes a loss of height, back pain, a hump or stooping posture.


The Saint Francis Breast Care Center in Cape Girardeau offers bone density testing to measure the thickness of the bones in your hip and spine. Our physicians will also review your medical history, perform a physical exam, or give a blood test to diagnose osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Prevention & Treatment

Saint Francis treats Osteoporosis with medications like Actonel® (risedronate), FOSAMAX® (alendronate) or Boniva® (ibandronate). The modified estrogen Evista® (raloxifene) is also effective. A healthy diet and supplements, such as calcium, are also helpful in preventing osteoporosis. Exercising, such as brisk walking, can help keep your bones strong.