The word osteoporosis literally means porous bones. It occurs when bones lose an excessive amount of their protein and mineral content, particularly calcium. Over time, bone mass, and therefore bone strength, is decreased. As a result, the bones become fragile and break easily. Even a sneeze or a sudden movement may be enough to break a bone in someone with severe osteoporosis. Breaks in the hip and spine are of special concern because they almost always require hospitalization and major surgery; and may lead to other serious consequences, including permanent disability and even death.