Osteoporosis is the term used to describe low bone density. This means that the usually strong, solid structure of bone begins to develop 'holes' or 'thin' areas. These thin bones are very brittle and prone to breaking, so can fracture with very little force.
After the age of 50, the lifetime risk of a fracture related to osteoporosis is 47% for women and 27% for men. About 50% of those people with a fracture will have another. Unfortunately, most people don't realize they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture. Fractures can cause significant loss of function, mobility and independence.
Osteoporosis in essence is a natural process as we age, but there are several factors that increase its severity. Calcium, regular weight-bearing activity, and our body's natural hormones are the main factors that maintain good bone density. Anything in our lifestyle or make-up that reduces or inhibits these factors is a risk factor for osteoporosis, such as:
Osteoporosis has silent symptoms. If you are concerned about osteoporosis, see your Holdsworth House doctor to discuss your risk and what you can do to minimize it.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed by an X-ray test to measure bone density; The Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry or DEXA scan.
This scan usually looks at the hip and spine and uses a formula to determine the level of bone density as normal, low (osteopenia), or very low (osteoporosis).
This depends on the results of bone density testing, if there has been a fracture or not, the number and severity of risk factors, as well as past and current medical history. A lot of improvement can be made by the individual taking control of their risk factors: increasing weight-bearing activity, eating lots of calcium-rich foods, reducing caffeine and cutting down or stopping smoking.
Your doctor may prescribe medication, especially if there has been a fracture. Where medications are used, there is good supportive research behind them.
Osteoporosis is easily diagnosed and managed, so speak to your Holdsworth House doctor. Know your osteoporosis risk factors, and how to control them, in order to keep good bone health.