CNRI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CNRI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Crumbling spine in osteoporosis. Coloured X-ray of a lower spine affected by the bone disease osteo- porosis. The spine bones (green) are irregularly aligned due to crumbling (compression fractures), which has given some of the bones a wedge shape. Bone density is reduced. Osteoporosis is caused by loss of protein tissue inside bone, which makes bones brittle and liable to fracture. The condition is a natural part of aging and leads on average to a one-third loss of bone density by age 70. When the spine is affected its bones can crumble, causing pain, curvature of the spine and loss of height. Osteoporosis is most severe in elderly post-menopausal women.
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