This blog is the first in a three part series on Osteoporosis, one of the biggest contributors to disability in our ageing population. In this series we will explore the following topics;
What is osteoporosis and how does it affect our bones?
What we can do to treat osteoporosis?
Falls prevention - how we can help reduce the risk of breaking a bone
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects our bones.
This condition occurs as bone mineral density reduces over time where the structure and integrity of bone is lost.
As we age, we begin to lose minerals in our bone such as calcium much faster than the body can replace it.
Osteoporotic fractures can result when our bone density becomes too low.
These fractures can happen a number of ways:
Spontaneously where the bone fractures as it can not handle the load being put on it
from simple tasks such as walking, bending or standing,
A small trip and mis-step,
Falls that result on landing on the wrist, hip or pelvis.
The most affected bones in our body are the thoracic spine, femur, wrist, humerus and pelvis.
OSTEOPOROSIS IS A SERIOUS CONDITION
Its estimated that in 2022 6.2 million Australians aged 50 or older had osteoporosis or osteopenia - thats 31% more than 2012.
In 2013 osteoporosis resulted in a fracture every 3.6 minutes. Thats a couple of fractures by the time you have read this blog.
1 in 4 men and 2 in 5 women over the age of 50 will experience a fracture as a result of osteoporosis.
The fatality rate for an acute osteoporotic hip fracture in people over 75 years was 20.7% in men, 7.5% in women.
RISK FACTORS FOR OSTEOPOROSIS
Increasing age: over 50 years, male or female!
Family history of osteoporosis
Low vitamin D levels
Low calcium levels
Low body weight / body mass
Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption
Reduced oestrogen levels
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE OSTEOPOROSIS?
Unfortunately many people don't know that they have osteoporosis until they actually have a fracture. Osteoporosis tends to present without any symptoms for most people. Early screening for Bone Mineral Density now picks up osteopenia and osteoporosis much earlier, meaning that treatment to help prevent further decline can begin earlier.
If you fit some or all of the risk factors above, its probably worth having a chat to your GP about getting screened.