What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition which involves thinning and weakening of bones, it literally means 'porous bones'. Osteoporosis becomes more common with old age and makes bones more fragile and prone to breaking. It often remains undetected until the time of the first broken bone. 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer a fracture after the age of 50.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is sometimes termed the 'silent epidemic' as there are no associated symptoms or warning signs prior to fracture. Over 60,000 hip, 50,000 wrist and 120,000 vertebral fractures occur every year in the UK.
Am I at risk of osteoporosis?
There are a number of risk factors associated with osteoporosis:
- Women if they have had an early menopause or hysterectomy (before the age of 45)
- Men with low levels of testosterone
- People who have broken a bone after only minor trauma (called a fragility fracture)
- People who take corticosteroid tablets (for conditions such as asthma or arthritis)
- People with a family history of osteoporosis
- People with medical conditions which affect the absorption of foods, such as Crohn\'s disease, coeliac condition or ulcerative colitis
- People with medical conditions which leave them immobile for a long time
- Excessive smoking and drinking, and women who are underweight or have developed an eating disorder
I think I might be at risk. Can I be tested for osteoporosis?
If you think you are at risk then discuss it further with your GP. A special scan which measures bone density, called a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan can be used to diagnose the condition. It is a simple, painless procedure.