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Osteoporosis

  • What is Osteoporosis?

    Osteoporosis is a bone condition which occurs when bones lose their strength and thickness, this is due to loss of minerals such as calcium at a rate higher than the body can replace. The bones, especially in the hip, spine and wrist, become less dense, more fragile and can break more easily.

    Bones are living tissues that are continuously being broken down and replaced. In the early years of life, more bone is made than is broken down, and therefore any bone loss is quickly replaced. Our bone growth is completed at around 30 years of age, and therefore as we get older more bone gets lost than the body can replace.

  • There are many risk factors that contribute to the development of Osteoporosis.

    • Non-modifiable, such as:
      1. A strong family history of the disease
      2. Gender. Women’s risk increases around menopause because the rate of bone loss increases and the body’s level of oestrogen decreases. Their risk also increases if they undergo a hysterectomy (womb surgical removal) before the age of 45.
      3. Race (Caucasians and Asians)
    • Modifiable risk factors include:
      1. A diet that is poor in vitamin D and calcium, and being underweight.
      2. Previous bone injury, long term immobility, medications and illnesses (such as kidney, liver, and thyroid diseases) can also predispose you to osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis may cause no specific symptoms, which is why it is known as the “silent disease”.

    It often goes undetected until it reaches an advanced stage. The symptoms of this stage include:

    • Back pain
    • Height loss over time
    • Hip, spine and wrists fractures
  • There are successful treatments for osteoporosis that aim at increasing your bone density and reducing you risk of bone fractures. Your doctor will suggest the treatment that best suits you, and these include:

    • Bisphosphonates – Enhance bone density and strength by repairing weakened bones. This treatment is useful in managing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women
    • Calcium and vitamin D supplements – Usually given with a specific osteoporosis medicine, in order to ensure the body has adequate calcium and vitamin D levels to maximise the benefits of prescribed medicines
    • Healthy diet
    • Regular safe exercise
    • Selective Oestrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMS) ‒ Medicines that mimic the action of oestrogen and therefore offset the effect of low oestrogen levels that causes bone loss. This treatment is targeted at treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women
    • Bone fractures, especially in wrists, hip, pelvis and back.
    • Disability and loss of independence due to bone fractures.
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