Osteoporosis of spine. Coloured X-ray of the lower back of a patient with osteoporosis (brittle bone disease). The condition causes bones to lose density and become porous and fragile. In this case, one of the vertebrae (third from top) has become compressed. Osteoporosis also increases the risk of fractures and can lead to disability or deformity. It is a progressive disease that is normally found in the elderly. It is four times more common in women than in men; bone loss is accelerated by the menopause. It can be prevented by exercise and sufficient calcium intake from childhood.
Credit: ZEPHYR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY