Osteoporosis is a common condition affecting many millions of people in which bones become fragile and brittle leading to a higher risk of fractures, than in normal bone. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone thickness (bone density or mass).
As bones become thinner and less dense, even a minor bump or fall can cause serious fractures. These are known as ‘minimal trauma’ fractures. Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the most common sites are the hip, spine, wrist, upper arm, ribs or forearm. Fractures in the spine due to osteoporosis can result in losing height or changes in posture (and in more serious cases it can result in a Dowager’s hump in the back).
Osteoporosis usually has no symptoms until a fracture occurs – this is why osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent disease’.
It is therefore very important for anyone with specific risk factors for osteoporosis to be investigated by their doctor. It is also important for anyone over 50 who experiences a fracture from a minor bump or fall to be investigated to check if the fracture was caused by osteoporosis.
Fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability, loss of independence and even premature death. So preventing fractures and managing bone health becomes a priority.
Prevention – as always – is the key here!
Have a well balanced diet including adequate intake of calcium.
Do appropriate exercises (eDoc Subscribers receive the recommendations based on age and sex).
Get adequate levels of vitamin D
Make lifestyle changes – stop smoking, minimise alcohol and caffiene intake.