What is Osteoporosis?
The term osteoporosis literally means “porous bone,” which describes the process whereby the structural components of bone (collagen fibres and minerals) reduce over time and the size of the pores between the structural components increases. This reduces the strength of the bone and the ability of bone resist external forces leading to breaks in the bone, or fractures.
Osteoporosis is a very common disease both in the UK, and worldwide where it is responsible for over 9 million fractures annually. In the UK the disease affects over 3 million people, and over 300,000 people seek hospital treatment for osteoporosis related fractures every year. Women are affected more than men because they lose bone more rapidly with age, this is particularly true after the menopause when oestrogen levels fall. At the age of 50 just 2% of women will have osteoporosis, but this rises to 25% by 80 years of age. Of course men can be affected as well, over the course of a lifetime one out of three women, and one out of five men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture.
Ideally osteoporosis should be diagnosed in patients who are at risk before it becomes severe, and before it causes a fracture.
Having assessed your risk of osteoporosis your doctor may arrange for you to have a bone density scan to assess bone mineral density.
Prevention strategies to limit the risk of falling, using lifestyle measures and medication to strengthen bones and treating fractures when they do occur.
All fractures will be referred to a specialist Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery team to decide upon the best management.