Osteoporosis is a gradual disintegration of bone that can have a destructive impact on the joints and vertebrae of your spine.
Osteoporosis causes the reduction of mass and solidity of the bones, making them more prone to breaks. If the bones in your skeletal structure become weak enough, they may begin to impinge your nerves, causing pain and other complications. Spinal compression can also affect internal organs, leading to serious health risks.
Osteoporosis is the result of a lack of calcium. Smoking and alcohol consumption both cause calcium depletion, so individuals that regularly use either are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Other factors, such as stress, diabetes, menopause, not enough exercise, and even abuse of laxatives, have been associated with osteoporosis as well, but smoking and drinking are the biggest culprits. The most at risk group is women who smoke, as long term smokers have reduced estrogen levels in addition to the calcium deficiency associated with smoking.
Spinal osteoporosis is tough to spot in its earlier stages. In more advanced stages, people complain of chronic pain, the loss of mobility, and shorter or humped-over stature. The most severe cases can force a patient into a permanent hunchback position.