Healthy bones should be able to withstand a fall from standing height, so a bone that breaks in these circumstances is known as a 'fragility fracture'.
The most common injuries in people with osteoporosis are:
- wrist fractures
- hip fractures
- fractures of the spinal bones (vertebrae).
A simple cough or a sneeze may cause the fracture of a rib or the partial collapse of one of the bones of the spine.
A fractured bone in an older person can be serious, depending on where it occurs, and can lead to long-term disability. For example, a hip fracture may lead to long-term problems with mobility.
One visible sign of osteoporosis is the characteristic stooping (bent forward) position that develops in older people. It happens when the bones in the spine are fractured, making it difficult to support the weight of the body.
Osteoporosis usually doesn't cause pain unless a bone is broken as a result of the condition. Although not always painful, spinal fractures are the most common cause of chronic pain associated with osteoporosis.
Source: NHS Choices, UK (Symptoms of osteoporosis)
Last reviewed: June 2015