Rohit, 12, suffers terrible pain most of the day due to osteoporosis but it doesn’t stop him smiling
Bone cells are constantly dying and being renewed, but not enough new bone forms in patients with osteoporosis. This means they become more porous, weaker and more prone to breakage. The condition often goes undetected and may cause no symptoms — until bones break.
Broken hips, wrists, and vertebrae are common in people with the condition.
Over time, some people with vertebral fractures may also develop a hunched posture as the spine struggles to support the weight of their body, and this can lead to breathing difficulties.
Osteoporosis is more common in women than men — especially after menopause — because of declining levels of the female sex hormone estrogen, which is vital for healthy bone formation.
Patients with osteoporosis have two main types of drug treatment available. The first slows the rate of bone loss, while the second stimulates the formation of new bone.
For nearly a decade, no new drugs were considered effective or safe enough to be given to patients.
But at the end of 2019, the European Medicines Agency approved romosozumab, a new type of bone-forming treatment.
The new treatment, branded Evenity, works by blocking sclerostin, a substance that stops new bone cells from forming.
One study found that postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who received the new drug had a 73 percent lower chance of developing a new vertebral fracture after one year, compared with women who received a placebo.
The treatment has also been shown to increase the density of the femur, hip and vertebrae.
However, it is not suitable for everyone. Osteoporosis patients at high risk of heart attack or stroke should not be given the drug, as a study found it could increase the chance of either one.
While the drug is being trialled in countries like the UK, it has yet to become widely available in the developing world, leaving many suffering without access to medical care that could improve their condition.