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What is Osteoporosis and what does it mean for me?

Osteoporosis means ‘porous bone’. Osteoporosis causes bones to become thin and fragile. Thin bones are weaker and more prone to fracture. Both men and women can get Osteoporosis. Women are higher risk due to hormonal changes.
Fractures caused by osteoporosis (called fragility fractures) occur in the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder. Fragility fractures can occur in anyone over the age of 50, if they have osteoporosis. Fragillity fractures occur from minor events that would not be expected to break bones if the bone was healthy. Around 4000 people per year fracture their hip. Hip fractures can have the most damaging outcome. Most people with hip fractures end up losing their ability to live independently.

How do I know if I have osteoporosis?

Take the one minute osteoporosis risk test.
If you are over 50 and have any of these risk factors, speak to your GP about osteoporosis:

  • If you have broken a bone in a minor incident, or 
  • You have family members with osteoporosis, or
  • You are thin for your height
  • You have had a chronic health problem affecting bone health.

What will my GP do to diagnose Osteoporosis?

Your GP may undertake a FRAX score to check your risk. Some people may need to have a bone density scan to confirm osteoporosis but many do not need this.

How do I prevent further bone loss?

The best prevention is building strong bones earlier in life. Encourage younger family members to look after their bones. You can do similar things to prevent further loss.

  • Exercise regularly: 30 minutes of weight bearing exercise per day. Weight bearing exercise includes walking, jogging, dancing, tennis, golf and low impact aerobics. If you are not sure about exercise we recommend you speak to Green Prescription.
  • Get enough calcium. Eat 2-3 servings per day of calcium rich foods. Lower fat dairy products or calcium fortified non-dairy foods are calcium rich.
  • Get your Vitamin D. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Many older people do not get enough daylight to get their Vitamin D. Do you spend time with your face arms and hands exposed to the sun, 15 minutes a day, 4-6 times a week? Low Vitamin D is more common in people with dark skin or who are not getting sunlight. Always speak to your GP before starting a Vitamin D supplement.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medication called Bisphosphonates to preserve (or partially restore) your bones. Bisphosphonates are proven and effective treatments which have shown to reduce the risk of fragility fracture by 30-50%.

Pick up one of these brochures at your local GP surgery or download it from their website