What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose their strength and density and are more likely to break, usually following a minor bump or fall. Osteoporosis is sometimes called the ‘silent disease’, as there are usually no tell-tale symptoms to alert you to its presence early on in its progression.1

Broken bones or ‘fragility fractures’ caused by osteoporosis can affect various parts of the body; the wrists, hips and spine are the most commonly affected sites.2

Unfortunately, people who have had one fracture are at greater risk of another – around 23% of secondary fractures occur within a year of the initial fracture. Fragility fractures caused by osteoporosis can have a devastating effect on the day-to-day lives of sufferers, affecting mobility and resulting in a loss of independence.3

Risk factors for osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men. This is because hormone changes that occur through the menopause directly affect bone density.4 Age is also a major risk factor for osteoporosis; our bones start to age as we enter our mid-thirties and as a result, one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture due to weakened bones.2

As well as age, many other factors can determine your risk of suffering from a fragility fracture:

Finding out more about your risk factors can be helpful because there are actions you can take to reduce these risks and ultimately make you less likely to suffer from a fragility fracture in older age.

 

References

1. National Osteoporosis Society. What is Osteoporosis? Available from: https://www.nos.org.uk/about-osteoporosis

2. Call to Action. HCPs: Are you confident that your patients at risk of fracture are being identified and receiving appropriate care? Osteoporosis in the UK….Breaking Point. Available from: http://www.thebms.org.uk/publicdownloads/Call_to_Action_HCP.PDF [Last accessed: May 2016]

2. National Osteoporosis Society. All about osteoporosis and bone health. Available from: https://www.nos.org.uk/~/document.doc?id=1848

3. National Osteoporosis Society. Effective Secondary prevention of Fragility Fractures. Clinical Standards for Fracture Liaison Services. April 2015. Available from: https://www.nos.org.uk/document.doc?id=1941

4. NHS Choices. Osteoporosis-Causes. Available from:  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Osteoporosis/Pages/Causes.aspx

5. Call to Action. HCPs: Are you confident that your patients at risk of fracture are being identified and receiving appropriate care? Osteoporosis in the UK….Breaking Point. Available from: http://www.thebms.org.uk/publicdownloads/Call_to_Action_HCP.PDF  

6. NICE Osteoporosis: assessing the risk of fragility fracture. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg146/chapter/introduction

7. Patient UK. Osteoporosis. Available from: http://patient.info/health/osteoporosis-leaflet