Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.It develops slowly over several years andis often only diagnosed when a minorfall or sudden impact causes a bone fracture.
The most common injuriesin people with osteoporosis are:
However, they can also occur in other bones, such as inthe arm or pelvis.Sometimes a cough or sneeze can cause a rib fracture or the partial collapse of one of the bones of the spine.
Osteoporosisisn't usually painful until a fracture occurs,but spinal fracturesare a common cause oflong-term (chronic) pain.
Although a fracture is the first sign of osteoporosis,some older people developthe characteristic stooped (bent forward) posture. It happens when the bones in the spinehave fractured, making it difficult to support the weight of the body.
Osteoporosis affects over three million people in the UK.
More than500,000 people receive hospital treatment for fragility fractures (fractures that occur from standing height or less) every year as a result of osteoporosis.
Losing bone is a normal part of the ageing process, but some people lose bone density much faster than normal. This can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
Women also lose bone rapidly in the first few years after the menopause (whenmonthly periods stop and the ovaries stop producing an egg). Women are more at risk of osteoporosis than men, particularly if the menopause begins early (before the age of 45).
Many other factors can also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:
It's a short, painless procedure that takesaboutfive minutes, depending on the part of the body being scanned.
Your bone mineral densitycan becomparedto the bone mineral density of a healthy young adult and someone who's the same age and sex as you.The difference iscalculated as a standard deviation (SD) and is calleda T score.
Standard deviation is a measure of variability based on an average or expected value. A T score of:
You may be diagnosed with osteopenia if bone density tests show you have decreasedbone density, but not enough to be classed as osteoporosis.
Your doctor may still recommend some of the treatments described below,depending on your results and your risk of fracture.
Treatment for osteoporosis is based on treating and preventing fractures, and using medication to strengthen bones.
The decision about whether you needtreatment depends on your risk of fracture. This will bebased on a number of factorssuch as your age, sexand the results of your DEXA scan.
If you need treatment, your doctor can suggest the safest and most effective treatment plan for you.
Read moreabout how osteoporosis is treated .
If you're at risk of developing osteoporosis, you shouldtake steps to help keep your bones healthy. This may include:
To help you recover from a fracture, you can try using:
Speak to your GP or nurse if you're worried about living with a long-term condition. They may be able to answer any questions you have.
You may also find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor or psychologist, or other peoplewith the condition.
The National Osteoporosis Society can put you in touch with local support groups .
Read about osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. Osteopenia is also a term used for bone density loss
Osteoporosis causes bones to become less dense and more fragile. Some people are more at risk than others.
Treating osteoporosis involves treating and preventing fractures and using medication to strengthen bones.
Your genes are responsible for determining your height and the strength of your skeleton, but lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise influence how healthy your bones are.
Having osteoporosis doesn't mean you'll definitely have a fracture. There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of a fall or break.
Bob Rees was diagnosed with osteoporosis after collapsing in pain on a family holiday.