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Osteoporosis

Understanding and living with Osteoporosis

A woman holding an x-ray

 

Osteoporosis is a condition where bone density is lost quicker than normal and become more likely to break.  With the right treatment and mobility aids, symptoms and pain can be managed to help maintain independence and the risk of falls or injury can be minimised.


What is Osteoporosis?

The first sign of osteoporosis is often a broken bone, as it is a condition in which bones lose their strength and become more likely to break. The bones most commonly fractured as a sign of the condition are hip, spine and wrist. While the condition itself does not cause any pain, the broken bones caused by it can be painful and also lead to long-term difficulties, which can have a great impact on the individual.

Osteoporosis affects more than 3 million people in the UK, while more than 500,000 receive treatment for fragility fractures as a result of it. While bone thinning is a normal part of the ageing process, some people can lose bone density much quicker than others. Women can lose bone rapidly in the first few years of menopause and are more at risk than men, especially if they go through early onset of menopause (before the age of 45).  Other risk factors include long-term use of certain medications that affect bone strength or hormones, having a low BMI, heavy drinking and smoking, and other medical conditions.


Treatment and support for Osteoporosis

Treatment is based on using medication to strengthen bones and treating and preventing fractures. Once diagnosed, your doctor will assess whether you need treatment depending on your risk factor, which is based on a number of things such as age, sex and results from scans.


You can take steps to keep your bones healthy such as:

  • Taking regular exercise
  • Making lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking.
  • Healthy eating including foods high in vitamin D and Calcium
  • Taking daily vitamin supplements

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, you can take steps in order to reduce your chances of any fractures or falls.

Remove hazards from your home - tripping hazards and clutter can greatly put you at risk of falling in the home. Make sure you have clear pathways from room to room and have no sharp corners sticking out. Slippers are a great way to increase friction between yourself in the floor (and also provide extra warmth in the winter!) while grab rails can add that extra piece of mind to high-risk areas like the bathroom and outdoors.

If you do unfortunately incur a small injury or fracture, hot and cold therapy can aid as a great pain relief, while protectors and splints can keep these areas cushioned and protected from further damage. Always consult your GP first to find the ideal item that can help with your needs.

In high-risk fall cases, whether for yourself or a loved one, falls management can provide ways to prevent falls or in the cases where they do happen, quickly alert family or carers if needed.


More information and support

For more information and support on osteoporosis, you can head to these links: