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Osteoporosis is a treatable and preventable condition

In the UK alone there are over 1,150 deaths that occur every month as a result of a hip fracture.  At the London Osteoporosis Clinic we are trying to raise awareness of the condition so that future fractures and breaks can be prevented.

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become fragile and if not treated, can progress painlessly until, seemingly from nowhere, a bone breaks. Many people first become aware of osteoporosis after an initial fracture but too many ignore this warning sign and only find out about osteoporosis after a more serious break.

Am I at risk of osteoporosis?

Unfortunately osteoporosis is very common. There are over 520,000 osteoporosis related fractures in the UK per year, yet many fractures can be prevented by treatment.

Osteoporosis occurs when the spokes of the lattice become thin and break.  Although osteoporosis usually affects the whole skeleton, the most common fractures are in the wrist, spine and hip.

Key facts about osteoporosis

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 in the UK will have osteoporosis
  • Every minute, someone suffers an osteoporosis-related fracture
  • An estimated 3.2 million people in the UK suffer from osteoporosis
  • Each year there are some 80,000 hip fractures, over 50,000 wrist fractures and 40,000 spinal fractures from osteoporosis
  • Osteoporosis costs the NHS and government some £4 billion each year.  (Reference: National Osteoporosis Society)

Signs and symptoms

There are typically no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may experience signs and symptoms that include:

  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
  • Loss of height over time
  • A stooped posture
  • A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected

Causes of Osteoporosis 

Your bones are in a constant state of renewal — new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and your bone mass increases.  Most people reach their peak bone mass by their early 30s.  As we age, bone mass is lost faster than it’s created. How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you attained in your youth.  The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.

Other factors for developing osteoporosis include:

  • A sedentary lifestyle (e.g lack of exercise, not being active)
  • Drinking excess alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Low sun exposure and lack of vitamin D
  • Low calcium levels
  • Inflammatory conditions (e.g arthritis)
  • Genetic variation
  • Drugs, such as steroids
  • Apoptosis (cell death)
  • Menopause – particularly early menopause

Life with Osteoporosis

The following video shows a National Osteoporosis Society landmark study of impact of osteoporosis and fragility fractures on people’s lives:

Read our Osteoporosis Leaflet

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become fragile and if not prevented or treated, can progress painlessly until a bone breaks, yet there are many treatments.

Find out more in our osteoporosis leaflet

If you think you or your family are at risk of osteoporosis or have osteoporosis there are several new treatments to cut the risk of future fractures and complications.