What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis refers to a condition of bone tissue deterioration, where your bones become less dense and therefore you are more susceptible to broken bones. This is more common in women and becomes more common as you age (especially after menopause). Other factors that increase your risk of osteoporosis include smoking, alcohol, low BMI, low calcium/vitamin D levels, some medications (such as steroids), and some medical conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers and some hormonal imbalances).
How do I know if I have Osteoporosis?
If you have broken a bone from an accident that would not normally result in a broken bone (eg if falling from a standing heigh), you will be diagnosed with osteoporosis. However, ideally we would like to diagnose osteoporosis before you hurt yourself! Because of this, it is recommended that all patients over 70, or over 50 if you have certain risk factors (eg family history, steroid use or certain medical conditions), receive what is called a ‘DEXA’ scan. This is like an X-ray which measures the density of your bones. This scan will tell the doctor how your bones compare to other people’s, and from this your doctor will be able to tell whether you have osteoporosis or not.
What Should I Do to Keep My Bones Healthy?
Your doctor will consider your risk of getting broken bones, and may start you on medications to strengthen your bones. It is important that you take these medications as instructed.
Apart from this, there are a number of things you can do to keep your bones healthy whether or not you have osteoporosis!
Talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking calcium and/or vitamin D supplements.
You can strengthen your bones by doing ‘weight-bearing’ exercises at least 3 times a week! This includes walking, jogging, tennis, dancing, using weights. Swimming and cycling are not weight-bearing.
Stop smoking. Smoking is bad for your bones, talk to your doctor or call Quitline on 137848 if you need help! Reducing your caffeine intake can also help your bone health
Talk to your doctor about whether any of your medications are bad for your bones
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.
Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. 2018. Exercise for Your Bone Health. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health. [Accessed 20 March 2018].
Ewald, D 2012, ‘Osteoporosis – Prevention and Detection in General Practice’, Aust Fam Physician, vol. 41, no. 3, pp 104-108
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