Osteoporosis Complications

Fractures Are the Primary Complication

Fractures are serious osteoporosis complications—especially if you have one at an older age. If you have a fracture when you're older, your body is less able to recover. At any age, fractures can be extremely painful—and the pain may not go away.

Oftentimes, the symptoms of osteoporosis won't clearly alert you to its presence. For many people with osteoporosis, a fracture is the first indication that something is wrong.

Osteoporosis-related fractures often occur in the wrist, spine, and hip, but no bone is safe from breaking.

Spinal compression fractures are particularly significant because they can impact your posture and even cause a loss in height. They can also be extremely painful if they compress a nerve.

Osteoporosis can weaken your spinal vertebrae (bones) to the point that it causes kyphosis or Dowager's hump, which is an abnormal curving of the spine that may give you a hunched over appearance. This abnormal curve can be caused by vertebrae that have weakened and have collapsed upon one another. The curvature can sometimes lead to breathing problems due to inability of the ribs to expand fully when inhaling.

Height loss is a common effect of osteoporosis. This results from multiple compression fractures in the spine.

Fractured bones are the primary complication of osteoporosis. However, understanding the disease’s risk factors and causes may help you effectively prevent osteoporosis.

View Sources
  • Treating Osteoporosis. In the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s Boning Up on Osteoporosis, Second Edition. 2008: 49-53.
  • Mayo Clinic Osteoporosis Complications page. Mayo Clinic Health Information Web site. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis/DS00128/DSECTION=complications. Accessed April 27, 2009.