What is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become less dense, they become brittle, weak and fragile meaning that bones are more likely to break or fracture. It is thought that this common condition affects 3 million people living in the UK. It becomes much more common as age increases and is found women are at more at risk than men.
Causes of osteoporosis start with bones becoming a lot weaker and more fragile due to age related bone loss. This starts to occur around the age of 35. Losing bone is a normal process but it can lead to the worsening of this condition and increase the risk of fractures and breaks. There are an exceptional amount of risk factors that can cause osteoporosis. Firstly women lose bone material faster than men and this is due to the fall in the hormone oestrogen after the menopause. Oestrogen helps to protect the body from bone loss. Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease are treated with steroids, which affects production of bone stopping calcium being absorbed. No exercise is another factor which can put someone at risk of developing osteoporosis. Exercise boosts bone development. If exercise is not present in daily life, or an individual has a disability or illness that restricts exercise, there will be more of a risk of losing calcium from the bones. Other causes of osteoporosis are poor diet, heavy smoking and drinking and genetics.
Osteoporosis symptoms often show no warning signs as they develop over several years. Signs or symptoms may not be made present until the time of a minor fall which will cause a person with osteoporosis to suffer from a bone fracture, this is the first sign that osteoporosis may be present. A fracture after a minor injury is known as a fragility fracture and will not occur unless the person has osteoporosis. These fractures are most common in the wrists, hips and the spine. Osteoporosis can be extremely serious for an older person and their mobility resulting in long term disability. Another symptom that may be found in older sufferers is a hunched or severely curved posture which sometimes occurs when the spine can no longer support the weight of the body. Osteoporosis has never been recorded as painful until a fracture arises. Spinal fractures have been found to be related to chronic pain associated with the condition.
Living with osteoporosis
At this moment in time there is no national screening programme in the UK. However GPs will ask men and woman over 50 and women who have gone through the menopause, certain questions regarding osteoporosis to monitor how many risk factors are present and how likely it is that they will develop the condition. If at risk of development a GP will most likely refer the patient for a bone mineral density scan to find out for more information. Normal x rays performed by a radiographer can be used to identify fractures but are rarely used to diagnose osteoporosis.
Although there's no cure for this osteoporosis, there are ways to reduce risks of fractures and slow down the progression of the condition such as quit smoking, drink alcohol within the advised level and participate in certain exercise. If osteoporosis has been diagnosed through a fragility fracture this will of course need to be treated first of all. Following recovery there will be treatment to reduce further fractures. Prevention of fractures can include maintaining sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D, to achieve this diet plan will need to be formed. There are a variety of different medical drugs that can be prescribed. A GP or a healthcare will advise on the drugs that can be taken. Lastly a major important measure to take in to try a prevent fails to eliminate the risk of fractures and injury. Check for hazards, beware of winter weather and try to avoid drugs that make you feel drowsy can all help to reduce risks.
The effects of osteoporosis can affect almost every aspect of a person's day to day life and routine. Depending on the severity of osteoporosis, it can make daily tasks difficult. There is an enormous range of care products that could potentially be of assistance, some examples of practical aids are listed below.
For those who suffer from osteoporosis or have suffered from a fracture it may be exceptionally useful for safety precautions to be taken in the bathroom. There are plenty of helpful products to prevent slips and fall which will hopefully reduce the risk of a fracture. Products include bath steps, bath grab rails, shower chairs and non-slip shower mats.
In many cases, people who have from a fracture will experience weakness or problems with mobility, in some cases there may be fractures within the vertebrae living the individual not being able to walk properly. In such cases, mobility aids such as walking sticks, rollators, walkers and wheelchairs can all play a part in facilitating independent mobility.
There are is a variety of personal care product that manufacturers have designed to make sure extra care is taken. Product such as protective pads and equipment, pill boxes and organisers and even personal alarms in case of falls are great for personal care.