What is Osteoporosis?

  • A disease that makes bones become brittle leading to a higher risk of breaks than in normal bone.
  • It occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, causing a loss of bone thickness (bone density or mass).
  • 1.9 million people in NSW and ACT aged 50 years and older (70%) have osteoporosis or osteopenia (poor bone health) in 2017.

Osteoporosis can increase risk of fracture:

  • As bones become thinner and less dense, even a minor bump or fall can cause a serious fracture.
  • Common sites of fracture are: hip, spine, and wrist.
  • Fracture can result in height loss or changes in posture, chronic pain, a loss of independence, disability and even premature death – so managing bone health to avoid fractures is a priority.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history.
  • Your Calcium and Vitamin D levels.
  • Certain conditions and medications can impact on your bone health:
    • Corticosteroids: commonly used for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis.
    • Low hormone levels: early menopause before age of 40 in women, low testosterone in men.
    • Thyroid condition: overactive thyroid or parathyroid.
    • Malabsorption: coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease.
    • Some medications for breast cancer, prostate cancer, epilepsy & some antidepressants.
  • Lifestyle factors
    • Low levels of physical activity.
    • Excessive alcohol intake.
    • Weight – thin body build or excessive weight.

Diagnosis and Screening of Osteoporosis:

  • Men and women over 50 with risk factors may need a bone checkup.
  • You would need to see a GP to assess your risk factors for osteoporosis before referring you for a test.
  • Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a bone density scan (DEXA scan). It is a simple X ray scan that measures the density of your bones, usually at the hips, wrists, and spine.

What To Do?

Make an appointment with one of our GPs at Providence to advise you on steps to take to manage potential osteoporosis or medical treatment for this condition.