Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over will suffer an osteoporotic fracture.
Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and fragile, so that they break easily – even as a result of a minor fall, a bump, a sneeze, or a sudden movement. Fractures caused by osteoporosis can be life-threatening and a major cause of pain and long-term disability.
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra.
- Loss of height over time.
- A stooped posture.
- A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected.
- Females are at higher risk than males.
- Age: The older you get, the greater your risk.
- Family history: Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk.
- Body frame size: Men and women with small body frames tend to have a higher risk.
- Exercise regularly including weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening and balance-training.
- Ensure a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein for bone health. Safe exposure to sunshine helps most people get adequate vitamin D but a supplement may be needed.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle including a healthy body weight. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.
- Talk to your doctor, especially if you’ve had a previous fracture or have specific diseases and/or medications that affect bone health.
- Get tested and treated if needed.
If you are over the age of 50 and you have one or more risk factors you should discuss these with your doctor and ask for an assessment of your bone density.
Lifestyle changes may be recommended and, for those at high risk, medication may be prescribed for optimal protection against fractures.