Osteoporosis Terms to Know

Familiarizing yourself with some of these terms may help improve your understanding of osteoporosis, and can help you have better discussions about your treatment options.

  • Anabolic
    • Osteoporosis treatment that builds new bone by stimulating your body’s natural bone-building cells
  • Antiresorptive
    • Osteoporosis treatment that slows down bone loss to help maintain the bone you have
  • Bone formation
    • Part of the bone remodeling process, when osteoblasts replace old bone with new, healthy bone
  • Bone mineral density (BMD)
    • How much bone mineral, such as calcium, is in your bones. BMD progressively decreases with age
  • Bone remodeling process
    • A constant process that happens in bones, where the old or damaged bone is removed (bone resorption) and replaced with new bone (bone formation) to maintain structure, function and strength
  • Bone resorption
    • Part of the bone remodeling process, when osteoclasts remove old, damaged bone
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan (DXA or DEXA scan)
    • A standard test to measure bone mineral density. Results come in T-scores, which help diagnose bone loss and osteoporosis, see how well osteoporosis medication is working, and predict the risk of future fractures
  • Fracture risk assessment tool (FRAX®)
    • A tool that incorporates risk factors such as family history, fracture history and others to assess the risk for osteoporosis and future fractures
  • Fragility Fracture
    • An osteoporotic fracture that results from a fall from standing height or less; normally these falls would not result in a fracture. Fragility fractures are associated with low bone mineral density
  • Kyphosis
    • Curving of the spine, seen as hunching of the back. Kyphosis can be the result of a spinal fracture that involves compression (flattening or crushing) of the vertebrae
  • Low-impact fracture
    • See “Fragility Fracture”
  • Osteoblasts
    • Cells in the bone that balance the bone remodeling process by building new bone to replace the old bone that’s been removed
  • Osteoclasts
    • Cells in the bone that initiate the bone remodeling process by breaking down and removing old, damaged bone
  • Osteopenia
    • Low bone mass, a risk factor for osteoporosis
  • Osteoporosis
    • A progressive disease that lowers bone density over time, making bones weaker and more likely to fracture
  • T-score
    • The result of a DEXA scan. T-scores compare a person’s BMD with the average BMD of young adults and are used to evaluate the risk of fracture and diagnose osteoporosis