Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle, leading to a higher risk of fractures (breaks or cracks) than in normal bone. Osteoporosis usually has no signs or symptoms until a fracture happens - this is why osteoporosis is often called the 'silent disease'.
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone thickness (bone mass or density). As a result, bones become thinner and less dense, so that even a minor bump or accident can cause serious fractures. These are known as fragility or minimal trauma fractures.
1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men over 60 years will have an osteoporotic fracture in Australia.
Two thirds of fractures of the spine are not identified or treated, even though they nearly all cause pain and some disability.
Osteoporosis can be easily diagnosed on a special type of x-ray known as a Dexa scan (image below). This machine determines your bone mineral density (BMD).
Management of osteoporosis includes important lifestyle changes, medication to stop further bone loss and prevent fractures and falls prevention measures. Your doctor can provide a tailor made management plan to reduce your risk of future fractures.