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Types of Osteoporosis

Topic Overview

There are four types of osteoporosis: primary, secondary, osteogenesis imperfecta, and idiopathic juvenile.

Primary osteoporosis

Primary osteoporosis is the most common type of osteoporosis. It is more common in women than men. A person reaches peak bone mass (density) at about age 30. After that, the rate of bone loss slowly increases, while the rate of bone building decreases. Whether a person develops osteoporosis depends on the thickness of the bones in early life as well as health, diet, and physical activity at all ages.

In women, accelerated bone loss usually begins after monthly menstrual periods stop. This happens when a woman's production of estrogen slows down (usually between the ages of 45 and 55). In men, gradual bone thinning typically starts at about 45 to 50 years of age, when a man's production of testosterone slows down. Osteoporosis usually does not have an effect on people until they are 60 or older. Women are usually affected at an earlier age than men, because they start out with lower bone mass.

Secondary osteoporosis

Secondary osteoporosis has the same symptoms as primary osteoporosis. But it occurs as a result of having certain medical conditions, such as hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or leukemia. It may also occur as a result of taking medicines known to cause bone breakdown, such as oral or high-dose inhaled corticosteroids (if used for more than 6 months), too high a dose of thyroid replacement, or aromatase inhibitors (used to treat breast cancer). Secondary osteoporosis can occur at any age.

Osteogenesis imperfecta

Osteogenesis imperfecta is a rare form of osteoporosis that is present at birth. Osteogenesis imperfecta causes bones to break for no apparent reason.

Idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis

Idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis is rare. It occurs in children between the ages of 8 and 14 or during times of rapid growth. There is no known cause for this type of osteoporosis, in which there is too little bone formation or excessive bone loss. This condition increases the risk of fractures.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Current as of November 6, 2012

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