Osteoporosis is ‘thinning of the bones’ and is often confused by the general public with Osteoarthritis (‘wear and tear of joints’). Osteoporosis is a painless condition, whereby the bones lose their mineral content over the years. This happens dramatically in women during the menopause, and is one reason why women are more prone to osteoporosis than men, and as a result the complications of fractures – both of long bones (such as hip fractures) or in the vertebrae in the spine, leading to loss of height and spinal curvature (the “dowagers hump”). Ill health and steroids are amongst the other causes of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can be effectively managed with a small group of medications, taken by mouth, infusion or injection. To diagnose osteoporosis, a dedicated bone density scan (the DEXA scan) must be done. Lifestyle adaptations, such as exercise, a good diet with vitamin D supplementation and moderating alcohol all help maintain healthy bone strength.