Osteoporosis, caused by the thinning of bones, increases the risk of fractures. It is a serious condition and is often termed the silent disease as you may be unaware that you have it until your weakened bones fracture in a bump or a fall. Areas most susceptible to fractures include the spine, hip and wrists, which may then go on to cause serious consequences.

Osteo Facts 1
THE RISK
FACTORS 2
There are various factors that may contribute to the risk of developing osteoporosis.
The checklist below lists some important risk factors for the disease:
  • Age. Maximum bone density and strength is reached around the age of 30. Thereafter bone mass begins to decline naturally with age.
  • Gender. Women over the age of 50 have the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Alcohol. Heavy alcohol use can lead to thinning of the bones.
  • Bone structure and weight. Petite and thin women are at greater risk. Similarly, small-boned, thin men are at greater risk than men with larger frames and more body weight.
  • Family history. Heredity is one of the most important risk factors for osteoporosis.
  • Certain medications. The long-term use of some medications may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Smoking. Smoking puts you at higher risk of osteoporosis.
  • Ethnicity. Research has shown that Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
  • Certain Diseases. Some diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis increase the risk for osteoporosis. Chat to your healthcare practitioner to find out more.
  • Prior history of broken bones.
PROCESS OF
DIAGNOSIS 3
There are several tests that can be utilized to measure bone density and diagnose osteoporosis.
These include:
DXA scan
(dual X-ray absorptiometry)
QCT
(Ultrasound and quantitative computed tomography)
Blood tests
Bone densitometry
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PREVENTION &
TREATMENT 4,5
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent this bone disease from developing, or to assist the body once osteoporosis has formed.

Calcium is an essential building block of bone and as such is a major role-player in the prevention of osteoporosis. The amount of calcium our bodies require changes with age. Do you know that the body’s ability to absorb calcium declines with age? This is one of the reasons why older people require higher levels! Ensure that you’re getting calcium rich foods in your diet daily.

These include but are not limited to dairy products:
  • Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter
  • Green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, bok choy, spinach
  • Canned fish with soft edible bones such as salmon, pilchards and sardines
  • Nuts such as almonds and Brazil nuts
Vitamin D assists the absorption of calcium from food and ensures the correct renewal and mineralisation of bone tissue. It’s another essential for bone health! Whilst vitamin D is made in the skin when exposed to sunshine, it can also be obtained from foods such as:
  • Oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • Eggs
  • Liver

Exercise is a must for bone health at every age and it’s never too late to get moving! As exercise strengthens bones and muscles, it can help in the prevention of falls and fall-related fractures. Additionally, exercise also improves balance, coordination and flexibility which all help in fall prevention.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, walking and weight lifting are two of the best exercises for building and maintaining bone density.
  • Walking makes you work against gravity while staying upright
  • Weight lifting makes you work against gravity in a standing or sitting position

Whilst osteoporosis cannot be cured, medications can be useful in on-going management of the disease and improvement overall quality of life. The right osteoporosis medication is dependent on many factors and your healthcare practitioner will be able to assist in prescribing a medication that’s right for you should this be required.

Some factors that may influence choice of medication include:
  • Age – certain medications are more appropriate for postmenopausal women
  • Sex – some medications are specifically formulated for women
  • Disease progression – your healthcare practitioner will take into consideration this and any other health concerns that you may have when recommending a medication for you
  • Personal preferences – medications are available in a variety of formats
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