What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the most common metabolic disease of the bone. As a result of a pathologically increased breakdown of bone mass or bone substance (hence the German name: bone loss), the fine structure of the bone is increasingly destroyed, which ultimately leads to significantly increased bone fragility. Osteoporotic bone fractures typically occur on harmless occasions or often even spontaneously, i.e. without an appropriate cause such as a violent fall.

All of the more than 200 bones of the skeleton are affected by this increased susceptibility to breakage. The forearm fracture, the vertebral body fracture and the femoral neck fracture are usually referred to as particularly typical osteoporotic fractures.

Attention: A distinction must be made here between osteoporosis, which is only diagnosed by means of bone density measurement, in which a bone fracture does not necessarily have to be present – we refer to this as preclinical osteoporosis – and overt osteoporosis in which osteoporotic bone fractures have already occurred.

Actually, only the latter, manifest osteoporosis, has a real disease value, while preclinical osteoporosis is initially only associated with an increased risk of bone fractures. Manifest osteoporosis requires treatment in any case; in so-called preclinical osteoporosis, which is only characterized by a low bone density without already existing bone fractures, targeted prevention (prophylaxis) may be sufficient.