Osteoporosis is an important condition often neglected or not identified. It is essentially reduced bone density which commonly occurs in females after the menopause. Oestrogen hormone has a role in protecting bone density, which declines after the menopause.
Patients who have osteoporosis can suffer from significant, potentially life changing fractures. These can occur from a relatively minor impact which would not be expected to cause fractures in a healthy individual. The location can vary but commonly include the hip, shoulder and wrist. Also vertebral fractures can occur – leading to chronic back pain and loss of height.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
• Female Sex
• Premature menopause
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Low BMI
• Family history of hip fractures
• Corticosteroid use
• Diabetes (type 1)
Osteoporosis itself doesn’t cause any symptoms and most people find out they have it after a fracture. This is why screening is so important, the aim is to identify patients who have osteoporosis before a fracture occurs.
Screening for osteoporosis is done by use of a risk assessment tool and a DEXA scan. Treatment can then be decided depending on the bone density (as measure by DEXA), the risk score and relevant history (whether you have had a previous fracture).
Lifestyle modifications are important – reducing alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, weight bearing exercises and eating a well-balanced diet with calcium rich foods. The use of calcium and vitamin D supplements may be advised. Medication such as bisphosphonates can help reduce the breakdown of bone and reduce fractures, these are first line drug treatments in osteoporosis.
Please contact us for further information.