Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

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Credit: ALFRED PASIEKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Osteoporosis. Computer artwork comparing a normal human spine (left) with the spine of a patient who has osteoporosis (right). The bony processes (at right of each spine) are the bumps felt through the skin of a person's back. The spine is a series of compact bones called vertebrae, that are separated by discs of cartilage (blue/red). One vertebra from each spine is drawn in section to show the honeycombed internal bone structure. In osteoporosis, a condition that is most common in menopausal women, loss of bone mass weakens this internal bone structure. This causes cracking and collapse of the vertebrae, leading to curvature of the spine (kyphosis) and disc degeneration (red).

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