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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Symptoms

Most people with osteoporosis do not have any symptoms. They do not know they have osteoporosis until they have a bone density test or a fracture.

One early sign can be a loss of height caused by curvature or compression of the spine. Curvature or compression is caused by weakened vertebrae (spine bones). The weakened vertebrae develop tiny breaks called compression fractures.

Compression fractures cause the spine bones to collapse vertically. When this happens, the vertebrae become shorter. The shape of each single vertebra goes from a normal rectangle to a more triangular form.

Compression fractures can cause back pain or aching. But the loss of height usually does not cause any symptoms.

Osteoporosis usually does not cause pain unless a bone is fractured.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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