Osteoporosis Glossary

Brand name for risedronate. Medication for osteoporosis.
A disease of the joint. Arthritis is a form of arthropathy.
Medication used to treat osteoporosis. Part of the class of drugs called bisphosphonates. Sold under brand name Fosamax and also available as a generic.
(aka signature molecule) Substance in body fluids or tissues that indicates condition or disease.
Class of chemical compounds used as osteoporosis medicines. They slow the reabsorption of minerals into the bloodstream. More.
Bone Density/Bone Mass
Weight per unit volume in the bone. Highly related to strength of the bones. Easier to measure than strength, so osteoporosis diagnosis keys on this factor. True densities as used in science are mass or weight per unit volume. Bone density as used in medicine is expressed in grams (mass) per square centimeter (area).
Bone Mineral Content (BMC)
Inorganic mineral mass per unit volume in the bone. Correlated with bone mineral density.
Bone mineral density (BMD) test
Diagnostic test physicians use to find osteoporosis. Very commonly employed test, relatively inexpensive and non-invasive, used to determine if a person is at risk for fractures. Also used to measure effectiveness of treatment.
Hormone secreted by the thyroid gland and also given medically as a treatment for osteoporosis.Increases bone density and reduces pain associated with fractures. Stops bone calcium from being dissolved into the blood. Not used routinely for treatment of osteoporosis.
Mineral bone constituent, and important nutrient.
Cancellous bone
Another term for trabecular bone.
Tissue in the skeletal system. Frequently found at the end of bones; it is allows bones to rub against each other without damaging the hard parts of the bone. Cartilage is stretchy and tough and contributes to bone flexibility.
Vitamin D3. A secosteroid. Also called Calcitriol. Important in treatment of osteoporosis because it aids in intestinal absorption of calcium. Sometimes doctors give Vitamin D3 to increase the patient’s serum calcium levels.
Type of protein that forms fibers and forms much of the structure of the body, including bones. There are type I, type 2, and type 3 collagen in the body It is mostly type 1 in bones.
Colles fracture
Often called a wrist fracture. Actually, a break in the radius bone in the forearm rather than the not the carpal bones of the wrist. Sometimes a result of osteoporosis.
Compression fracture
An injury to the spine in which one or more vertebrae collapse. Although compression fractures can be caused by accidents, they are more commonly found in osteoporosis patients. Can be treated by vertebroplasty if the pain is severe.Also treated by regular osteoporosis treatment
Cushing syndrome
Cluster of symptoms including weak muscles, thin arms and legs, a fatty hump between the shoulders, fat around the base of the neck. Caused by excess cortisol in the body. Often co-morbid with osteoporosis.
Cortical bone
One of the two broad types of bone (the other is cancellous bone) The solid bone that is on the outside of bones.
the medical classification of which illness a person has.
Disuse Osteoporosis
bone thinning due to lack of stress on the skeleal system or certain bones.
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. Most often used diagnostic test for osteoporosis. Uses X-Rays at low intensity. Usually done on hip or spine or wrist bones.
Group of body chemicals generally (although simplistically) considered the female sex hormone. In the context of osteoporosis, known for helping bone density stay high.
Refers to the glands that produce hormones
aka oesophagus, part of the alimentary canal - tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach. Often irritated by bisphosphonates.
The brand name for raloxifene, a medicine used to treat osteoporosis.
Broken bones.
FRAX Score
Number used to assess of the risk of suffering a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. FRAX stands for Fracture Risk Assessment. Factors in measured bone density in the femur as well as lifestyle and dimensions about patient (e.g. age, height). https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX/
The brand name for alendronate, a medicine used to treat osteoproosis.
Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIOP)
A form of bone thinning that seems to be due to use of steroid medications, although the pathology is unknown. More.
Chemical messengers in the body that are created in the endocrine glands. Part of the body's regulatory system. Hormones travel through the bloodstream.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Treatment sometimes given to women to increase estrogen levels after menopause. Among other goals, this therapy can slow the rate of bone loss. This treatment is not used as often as it once was. Also called estrogen replacement therapy.
Heel Test
Ultrasound screening of foot, hand, finger, or wrist to determine bone density.
Medical condition where calcium levels in the bloodstream are higher than normal. If bad enough, calcium phosphate can crystalize out of solution and deposit in the body’s tissue, which can lead to a host of problems.
Medical condition where calcium levels in the bloodstream are lower than normal.
Body chemicals that are part of the immune system. Play a part in bone resorption.
Kyphotic curve
Abnormal concave curving of the spinal cord. Also called hyperkyphosis when the curvature occurs in the thoracic part of the spine – this in particular is a sign of osteoporosis. Makes people look like they have a hump in their backs. The other kind of spinal curve is called lordotic, but this type is generally not associated with osteoporosis.
A treatment for kyphotic curves due to compression fractures. Considered a major improvement in osteoporosis care, this procedure can stabilize fractures, relieve pain, and actually make the patient taller. See our page on kyphoplasty
Type of osteoclast in the jaw involved in the remission of baby teeth
The overall physiological process of cartilage converting into hard bone.
Bone formation by deposition of minerals.
The builder cells in bone that collect minerals and secrete the bony mass.
Bone resorption. Regular part of the bone remodeling process.
The formation of osteoclasts in the bone tissue. A part of the bone remodeling process.
Big cells with multiple nuclei that play an important part in living bone by dissolving bone minerals.
Cells inside ossified bone. Derived from osteoblasts.Surrounded by minerals.
Field of study concerned with the interaction between the immune system and the bone (skeletal) system.
Insufficient mineralization of bones, usually caused by low vitamin D levels.
Lower than average bone density, but not so low that the patient is diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Bone with a T-score between –1and –2.5
A clinical disease in which the patient’s bones become fragile and low density, resulting in an increased risk of fracture.
Bone with a T-score less than –2.5
Syndrome when a patient has osteoporosis (low bone density) and sarcopenia (low muscle mass).
Parathyroid hormone (PTH)
Regulates the level of calcium in the blood and hence plays a part in bone density and bone diseases. A synthetic parathyroid hormone, teriparatide, is used to treat osteoporosis.
Membrane that covers the outside of bones (except for the ends of long bones).The counterpart to endosteum.
A major bone mineral.
Postmenopausal osteoporosis (PMO)
Osteoporosis that develops or is diagnosed after the patient has undergone menopause.
Form of the hormone progesterone.
Likely outcome - a forecast- of a disease in a particular person
A Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator medicine used to treat osteoporosis. Sold under the brand name is Evista.
Dissolving of boney tissue out of the bone and into the bloodstream. The osteoclasts are bone cells that carry out this function.
Doctors that specialize in diseases of joints and connective tissues. Sometime get involved in osteoporosis cases, especially difficult or advanced ones. A general practitioner can usually handle most osteoporosis cases.
Aka osteomalacia. Insufficient mineralization of bones, usually caused by low vitamin D levels.
A bisphosphonate drug for osteoporosis sold under the name Actonel.
Risk factor
Anything that increases a person's chances of developing a disease. Risk factors can include items beyond the patient’s control (age, parents’ health) and inside their control (alcohol consumption), etc.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)
A class of chemical compounds that works on estrogen receptors. Used in treatment of osteoporosis.
Spinal column
The spine or the backbone. Made of 33 interlocking bones called vertebrae. The topmost section is called the cervical, followed by the thoracic (longest section in chest), the lumbar, and sacrum, and the coccyx.
Steroid-induced osteoporosis
Osteoporosis resulting from use of glucocorticosteroids over a long period of time. Corticosteroids are used as medicines. More on this.
Cluster of symptoms that often occur together. Often called a syndrome if scientists cannot pin the symptoms on a defined disease.
A statistical measure of bone density, indicating the number of standard deviations in difference from the mean of bone densities of 30-year old people of the same sex. The main indicator in diagnosis of osteoporosis today.
Thyroid hormone
A major body hormone important in regulation of metabolism.Too much can result in bone loss.
Trabecular bone
the spongy hard tissue on the inside or large bones. Looks porous under a microscope. Contains marrow that makes red blood cells.
Diagnostic system that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images. Not routinely used in assessment of bone health
Components of spine and frequent trouble spots for patients with osteoporosis. There are 33 vertebrae.
Surgical injection of cement to the spinal cord to stabilize fractures. Often paired with kyphoplasty for treatment of compression fractures. See page on Vertebroplasty
A statistical measure of bone density, indicating the number of standard deviations in difference from the mean of bone densities people of the same sex and age as the patient. A key metric in the diagnosis of osteoporosis.
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