People are often unaware that they have fragile bones until the time of a first fracture. Broken wrists, hips and spinal bones are the most common fractures in people with Osteoporosis and it is more widespread in older age, although younger people can sometimes be affected. Osteoporosis is not a painful condition. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the UK will fracture a bone, mainly as a result of Osteoporosis.
The cause of the disease is still not fully understood. As we get older, our bone tissue cannot regenerate as well as it did when we were younger. Due to this process, the development of Osteoporosis leads to our bones becoming less dense, making them more fragile.
Often the first sign of Osteoporosis is when someone breaks a bone after a relatively minor fall. It can also cause back pain and occasionally breathing problems due to lack of space under the ribs.
If you suspect Osteoporosis you can chat to your doctor and they can order a DEXA scan. This scan involves lying on a couch fully clothed while your bones are X-rayed.
The skeleton grows stronger if you regularly perform weight bearing exercise. This includes any kind of physical activity where you are supporting the weight of your own body, for example jogging, aerobics, tennis, dancing and brisk walking. Click here for a useful link to exercises.
The body contains 1kg of calcium, 99 percent of which is stored in our bones. While it is important to eat plenty of calcium to help build or maintain healthy bones, other vitamins and minerals are also important. Food sources containing high levels of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurt and certain types of fish (Whitebait). Also green leafy vegetables, watercress, beans, chick peas and some nuts, seeds and dried fruit are good sources of calcium.
Things To Avoid
Smoking has a toxic effect on bone by stopping cells from doing their work.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol is damaging to our skeleton and increases your risk of fracture and please do remember that too much alcohol can affect your balance and increase the risk of falling.
Vitamin D is also important as it allows the body to absorb calcium. This is found in some foods particularly oily fish. It is also produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. You may need to take a supplement of Vitamin D, which your doctor will advise you on.
These are the most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat Osteoporosis. These drugs have been shown to reduce the risk of broken bones. Most are available in tablet form – daily, weekly or monthly – they are non-hormonal and act by slowing down the rate of bone loss.
Ibandronate and Zoledronic Acid are also bisphosphonates, but do not have the same side effects on the gullet.
It helps stop the development of the bone removing cells before they damage the bone, therefore increasing the strength of the bone. This is given via a subcutaneous injection every 6 months.
Calcium& Vitamin D
There are a number of calcium and vitamin D supplements to help prevent broken bones. Side effects can include irritation of the gullet and these drugs may not be suitable for people with stomach/bowel trouble or kidney problem.