Osteoporosis is caused by thinning bones which makes it more likely you’ll break a bone when you fall. As many as half of women and a quarter of men over the age of 50 are likely to have a fracture associated with osteoporosis. People who are affected are also more likely to have a rounded (hunched) upper back.
Older women (after the menopause) are the most likely to be affected, due to a lack of oestrogen. Other risk factors include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Being of Caucasian or Asian origin
- Having a family history of the condition
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Poor diet
- Low body weight
- Drinking more than four units of alcohol per day
There are very often no symptoms and many people only become aware they have osteoporosis when they have a fracture. Some people become shorter due to the condition as they age, and degeneration of the bones can cause a vertebral compression fracture which can change the shape and strength of the spine.
If your specialist suspects that you may have osteoporosis, an X-ray and/or bone density scan (DEXA) can confirm the diagnosis.
Your specialist may recommend that you take regular calcium and vitamin D supplements, as well as improving your overall diet and weight-bearing exercise levels. In post-menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is sometimes advised and/or bisphosphonates, which slow down deterioration of the bones.
Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.