Diseases that Affect the Bone

Osteoporosis is a common condition that weakens bones and can make them at risk for bone fractures. Bones most often affected are in the hip, spine and wrist, but the ribs and other bones are also at risk.

Although osteoporosis can affect both men and women, women are four times more likely to develop the disease. A lack of calcium throughout life can play a role in the development of osteoporosis. Low calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of bone fractures. In some cases, problems with the parathyroid glands can lead to bone disorders.

Other metabolic bone diseases include:

  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Paget's disease
  • Osteomalacia
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Rickets

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Osteoporosis often develops and progresses without any symptoms or pain, which is why regular screenings for bone loss are so important. Symptoms may include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Change in posture
  • Loss of height
  • Lower back pain
  • Shortness of breath

A dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) scan is recommended annually for women over age 65, men over age 70 and anyone age 50 or older who has had a fracture.

Prevention of bone disease is the best treatment – lifestyle and diet are the most important factors you can control. If you are a postmenopausal woman, hormone therapy may also help prevent bone loss. Typically, people with bone disease can continue to live a normal life, but need to be careful to avoid falls, which can increase the risk of bone fractures.

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Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopaedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

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Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. They provide multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional areas of orthopaedics.

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