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Sure Signs Your Bones are "Too Weak"

Bone up on bone health.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Worried about bone health as you get older? It's important to know what's normal and what's not. "Adults should not break bones when they fall from a standing position," says Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP. "That is not a standard part of aging." Here are five sure signs your bones are too weak, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Lower Back Pain

Side view of a frowned young man suffering from pain in loin while sitting on white bedding

Back pain is one of the most common signs of osteoporosis, experts say. "I have seen people fracture their spine while stooping to pick something up, such as a newspaper, or leaning over to brush their teeth," says Daniel G. Arkfeld, MD, a rheumatologist with Keck Medicine of USC at the University of Southern California.


Loss Of Height

Woman going through bone density exam.

While some height loss is normal with age, osteoporosis can cause significant loss of inches. "A lot of people are under the misconception that losing height is normal," says rheumatologist Abby G. Abelson, MD, FACR. "Certainly losing a half-inch or three quarters of an inch may be normal, but I've seen patients who say they've lost two, three, or four inches in height, and they thought that was a natural consequence of aging. But it's not."


Bone Fracture

Female orthopedist massaging middle-aged woman in clinic.

Fractures are strongly linked to weak bones. "Probably 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men are expected to have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime," says Joy Wu, MD, associate professor of medicine and endocrinology at Stanford Health Care. But there are ways to know, long before you break a bone, whether you're losing skeletal mass — and to take steps to protect yourself. "Ultimately, we are most worried about hip fractures."


Early Menopause

woman sits on the couch, tired, while dealing with menopause

Early menopause could lead to low bone density. "When you don't have enough estrogen, the bones break down much faster than they build up, and consequently, there's a net loss," says Dr. Thacker. "It's imperative to discuss and institute a bone loss prevention plan with your doctor when the first signs of menopause appear," Dr. Thacker says. "It's a great time to get a baseline bone density test and to go over your family history, lifestyle and medications, and what you can do to be strong and healthy."


Difficulty Standing Up

Orthopedics doctor showing senior patient a slipped disk on a backbone model.

If you need to use your arms to stand up (for example from a chair) your bones could be weakening. "Our bones and our muscles work as a unit; they get stronger as a unit and tend to get weaker as a unit," says Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD. "It is also a strong predictor of falling. When you have weak leg muscles, you are more likely to fall and therefore have a fracture."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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