Osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak, leading to an increased risk of fracture. 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will experience a fracture due to osteoporosis. The most commonly affected sites are the wrists, hips and spine.

Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men, and tend to exprience a greater degree of bone loss after the menopause. However, the condition can affect men and women of any age, and if someone is frequently breaking bones, then osteoporosis may be considered as a possible diagnosis.

How is osteoporosis treated?

If osteoporosis is suspected, your doctor may calculate your future fracture risk using a tool such as the “FRAX” score (see below for more information about FRAX). This can help determine which is the most appropriate treatment for you.

Types of treatment include lifestyle advice, calcium and vitamin D supplements and a group of drugs called bisphosphonates which help prevent bones from weakening further. An example of a bisphosphonate might be alendronate, or risedronate. It is important that you have regular follow up when on bisphosphonates, as taking them for too long can increase your risk of having an “atypical” fracture. See the links below for more information about medications.

Where can I find out more about osteoporosis?

nosNational Osteoporosis Society

  • What is osteoporosis? – including more information about the condition, and what causes it
  • Scans and Tests – information about how osteoporosis is diagnosed
  • Drug Treatments – a guide to the different drug treatments for osteoporosis, how they work, and how they are followed up
  • Lifestyle Advice – a guide to healthy living for stronger bones

noggNational Osteoporosis Guideline Group

  • FRAX Score – a tool for professionals to assess future risk of fracture in patients

Last updated: October 3, 2017