Bo Headlam Contributing Columnist MD As we age

April 2, 2013

Bo Headlam

Contributing Columnist MD

As we age, our bones become softer. This results from a condition called osteoporosis. The word osteoporosis literally means “porous bones.” It occurs when bones lose a large amount of calcium. As a result, the bones become fragile and break easily. Even a sneeze or sudden movement may be enough to cause a bone to break.

In the United States, at least 44 million people are at risk for osteoporosis, which is responsible for at least 1.5 million broken bones (fractures) each year. These fractures can affect any bone. But one of the most common locations is the spine.

Osteoporosis usually occurs in older people and in women after menopause. It affects nearly half of men and women over the age of 75.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis:

  • Age above 50
  • Caucasian race
  • Slim body type
  • Early menopause in women
  • Lifestyle (smoking, excessive drinking, or insufficient exercise)


Osteoporosis is usually diagnosed by a painless test called a DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scan.


For painful broken bones in the spine due to osteoporosis (otherwise known as vertebral compression fractures), vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are two procedures that can stabilize the broken bones, decreasing the pain.

For more information about osteoporosis, or the treatment of vertebral compression fractures, please contact Dr. Headlam’s office at 740-356-6808.