Everyone needs to be aware of their bone health as they age. Did you know that osteoporosis is a chronic health condition that affects 1.2 million Australians?1 In fact, one in three women, and one in five men over 50 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis and despite what many people think, osteoporosis is not a normal part of ageing.
What is osteoporosis?
It is quite a common disease that affects over 5% of the Australian population. In simple terms, osteoporosis weakens your bones over time by making them brittle, fragile and more prone to fracture than normal bone. Osteopenia, which is a term describing low bone density, affects a further 6.3 million people.1 Osteoporosis occurs when your bones lose essential minerals like calcium, and your body is then unable to replace these minerals quickly enough. This causes a loss of bone thickness or bone density, which means that even a minor bump or fall can result in a broken bone.
Fracture affects your quality of life
A bone fracture can be painful, make it difficult to carry out your day-to-day work or activities and make you less independent. Hip and vertebral fractures in particular can be quite debilitating and require extensive recovery and rehabilitation. Ultimately, a fracture caused by osteoporosis can really affect your quality of life. This is why it is so important for all Australians to be more aware of their bone health.
Know the signs: recognise the first fracture to prevent the second
The first fracture is often the first symptom of osteoporosis. Do you know that 72% of people with one or more fracture don’t routinely receive treatment to prevent further fractures?2 If you have any of these signs, talk to your doctor about osteoporosis.
- Have you had broken bones from minimal trauma? This is a fall from a standing height or less
- Do you have a family history of broken bones?
- Do you have a stooped back or have you lost 3 or more centimetres in height? This may be a sign of undiagnosed vertebral fractures
Protect your future: if you are over 70 you can check your risk for osteoporosis
Australians over 70 years old are eligible for a Medicare rebate for a bone mineral density test called a DEXA scan. You may also be eligible if you have certain medical conditions such as thyroid disease, or take certain medications, e.g. glucorticoids. Talk to you doctor about getting a DEXA scan to assess your bone health.
- Osteoporosis Australia. What you need to know about Osteoporosis. Consumer guide. 2017. http://www.osteoporosis.org.au.
- Eisman J, et al. J Bone Miner Res 2004;19:1969-75.
AU-08999. September 2018.