Osteoporosis is known as the ‘silent killer‘
It is a medical condition that leads to weakening of the bone structure in your body. Also called “brittle bone disease,” osteoporosis makes bone more fragile and increases your chance of sustaining a broken bone.
Cancer treatment can induce this disease, so I was sent for annnual DEXA Scans to check my bone density. During a review my Oncologist mentioned “your Scan shows Osteoporosis”, and left it at that.
Back home, I googled (as one does) and got worried. Phoned to ask my Oncologist at The Royal Marsden what I should do, and was told “nothing you can do”.
My next call was to the hospital Chaplain. He told me there was lots I could do, and suggested I went off to Casciane Terme, in Italy, where “they know all about it”.
At Casiane Terme,at 8 am in the morning, coach loads of OAPs start rolling in from the surrounding countryside, filled with patients come to do exercises. From what I could gather, the Italian health service is keen to encourage self-help, and if you don’t participate you might be left to sort yourself out – so ‘Did Not Attend’ and you could be off the programme.
The Italians go for weight-bearing exercise programmes – ranging from strenuous gym sessions to tailored exercises in the hydrotheraoy pool. Pool exercises were ideal for me, as after a couple of nasty falls I didn’t want a repeat., and water would ensure a ‘soft’ fall. No chance of breaking more bones!
Carrying on with exercises and hydro when I returned to England, my next DEXA Scan showed a marked improvement in bone density!
During Covid-19 lockdown, sadly hydro pools have been closed. I have noticed this definitely has made me less mobile, so I can’t wait for hospital hydro pools to re-open.
- Osteoporosis is most common in women, as there is accelerated loss of bone following menopause. The two most critical factors in determining who gets osteoporosis are how much bone mass an individual accumulates in their teens and twenties, and how quickly they lose it thereafter.
- The major complication of osteoporosis is a fractured bone.
- Half of women over age 50 will sustain a broken or fractured bone resulting from osteoporosis.
- Many fractures resulting from osteoporosis can have major health implications. Spine and hip fractures are notorious for leading to significant declines in function and overall health.
- After the age of 30, you lose bone rather than gain it. That said, there are steps that you can take to slow the rate of bone loss. This is why bone health in young people, particularly young women, is so critical. If they don’t build bone in their teenage years, they will have a much higher chance of developing osteoporosis later in life.
- There are ways to control osteoporosis. While some aspects that determine bone density are out of your control (race, gender, etc.), there are others that you can influence (diet, exercise, etc.) Studies show that factors you can’t control account for 75 percent of the condition, but the other 25 percent is up to you.
- Female gender
- Caucasian race
- Advanced age
- Slender build or fair skin
- Poor nutrition
- Tobacco use
- Some specific medications (e.g. steroids)
- Some medical conditions (e.g. thyroid abnormalities)
The condition can’t easily be reversed, but it can be slowed down. Treatments are focused on efforts to maintain bone density and prevent continued loss of bone. There are some instances where bone density can actually increase, but again, the emphasis is usually placed on efforts to prevent further bone loss.
- Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing, where you are up on your feet
- Quit smoking
- Eat healthily
- Ensuring you have an adequate intake of essential nutrients, including calcium and Vitamin D, or taking supplements if you don’t consume an adequate amount of these
Medications can be effective treatments for osteoporosis, and there are a number of options for different situations. You need to consult a Rheumatologist or specialist consultant to ask their advice. Don’t believe your GP if they say there is nothing to be done. There is.
Broken bones are often the end result of osteoporosis. The goal of treatment is to prevent sustaining a broken bone, especially a broken hip.
Any broken bone can be the result of osteoporosis. While broken bones are typically the result of major trauma to the body, such as car accidents or falls, in people with osteoporosis, they are more likely to happen and be severe. Depending on the severity of osteoporosis, people can sustain broken bones by falling from a standing position—or even with no known trauma at all.
A Word From Verywell
I must thank this American-based website for providing much of this information, As they say, the major problem with osteoporosis is that it increases your chance of sustaining a fracture.
There are steps you can take to prevent the progression of osteoporosis and your risk of sustaining a fractured bone. Most osteoporosis-related fractures occur as the result of simple injuries and falls around the house.
In addition to taking the above steps to improve bone health, you can also take precautions to prevent the likelihood of sustaining an injury that leads to a fracture. Setting up your house to minimize your chances of a fall, having your vision checked, and ensuring medications are administered correctly can all be helpful. Get rid of loose rugs; make sure stairs are well-lit; look carefully for hazards that might trip you up, like a loose floor-board, etc.
Royal Osteoporosis Society They are a UK-based Charity and run a brilliant Helpline, staffed by Nurses who know their stuff! Memberhip is £18 p.a. 0808 800 0035 www.ros.org