Osteoporosis: Explained


Context: World Osteoporosis Day is observed on October 20th each year. The day is dedicated to raising awareness of osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal diseases. A 2019 study revealed that India was the highest contributor to osteoporosis fracture-related deaths/disabilities worldwide. 

About Osteoporosis

About Osteoporosis
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  • Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone”. It is a bone disease that causes a loss of bone density and leads to the weakening of bones.
    • Bone is a living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced.
    • When viewed under a microscope a healthy bone looks like a honeycomb.
    • When osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much larger than in healthy bone.
    • Osteoporotic bones lose density or mass and contain abnormal tissue structures
  • Impact: For people with osteoporosis bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone. Bones become porous (less dense), brittle and the fracture can occur with a minor fall, bump or sudden movement. It also causes changes in posture and the person stoops.
  • Occurrence: The prevalence of osteoporosis occurs more with ageing. The prevalence of osteoporosis in elderly females is slightly higher than in males as Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause.
    • Projected data shows that at least 46 million women in India currently live with post-menopausal osteoporosis. 
  • Diagnosis: Bone mineral density scan (DEXA) helps healthcare providers detect osteoporosis by measuring how much Calcium and other minerals are present in an area of a bone. 
  • Prevention: Nutritional intake of adequate Calcium, Protein, and Vitamin D and regular exercise. 
bone health & About Osteoporosis risk


  • High prevalence: Owing to the large elderly population and prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies, particularly in women, and the lack of physical exercise, there is a high index of suspicion/occurrence of osteoporosis in India.
  • Knowledge Gap: There are no large-scale studies on osteoporosis in India and enormous gaps in knowledge about osteoporosis, even among doctors.
  • Infrastructural Gap: Most of the Indian population does not have access to DEXA or bone mineral density scan. A study found that in India, there are only 0.26 DEXA machines per million of the population.

Way Forward

  • To bridge the osteoporosis care gap in India there is a need to promote awareness and empower healthcare providers with context-specific knowledge and resources to diagnose, treat, and prevent this debilitating condition.

Practice Question:

Q. Consider the following statements:

    1. Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine.

    1. The prevalence of osteoporosis in elderly males is slightly higher than in elderly females.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (d) 

Previous Year Question: (2014)

Q. Consider the following pairs:

Vitamin             Deficiency disease

1. Vitamin C :       Scurvy

2. Vitamin D :       Rickets

3. Vitamin E :      Night blindness

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

Answer: (a) 

Source: The Hindu

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