What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, which literally means porous bone, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. It is a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue. Bone fragility and fracture are the consequences. Osteoporosis occurs when the struts which make up the mesh-like structure within bones become thin, causing them to become fragile and break easily. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Osteoporosis is the most common metabolic bone disease in older adults. One in five men and one in two women over 50 will fracture a bone as a result of osteoporosis and children can also be affected. 90% of hip fractures are due to osteoporosis, yet only approximately 15% of people with osteoporosis are diagnosed. It is a preventable and treatable disease in the majority of cases, but early diagnosis is essential for the best prognosis.
Osteoporosis and fractures
Osteoporotic fractures are sometimes referred to as "fragility fractures". Fractures can lead to chronic (long-term) pain, disability, loss of independence and difficulty engaging in normal activities of daily life which can lead to isolation, problems with relationships, and emotional difficulties including depression, which develops in 40% of people with vertebral fractures.
So preventing fractures and managing bone health becomes a priority. 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
Although osteoporosis is commonly linked to post menopausal women; men and younger women
can be affected too, as well as children and pregnant women. It is very important that osteoporosis
is detected as early as possible to ensure bone health is managed to prevent fractures
Managing and treating osteoporosis to prevent fractures is vitally important. This is because about 50% of people with one fracture due to osteoporosis will have another. And often a person?s osteoporosis is not diagnosed until after they experience their first fracture. The risk of future fractures rises with each new fracture. For example women who have suffered a fracture in their spine are over 4 times more likely to have another fracture within the next year, compared to women who have never had an osteoporotic fracture. Finally, It is essential that fractures caused by osteoporosis are identified and osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated to prevent further fractures
Low bone mass
Osteopenia -low bone mass- refers to having bone mineral density (BMD) between normal and osteoporosis. When bone is less dense than the average but not low enough to be classed as osteoporosis, this means you need to take action to support your bone health. If you are found to have osteopenia, lifestyle changes such as the adoption of a well-balanced calcium-rich and vitamin D diet can help. Regular weight-bearing exercises are also often recommended for people in this category.