Osteoporosis Terms to Know

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