Your questions answered
WhAt iS oSteoporoSiS? A fracture in the spine caused by
osteoporosis may happen just by
osteoporosis causes bones to become getting out of bed and a wrist or hip
fragile and brittle and therefore fracture fracture may happen by just tripping
(or break) more easily. Both men and over a loose rug or on a join in a path.
women can get osteoporosis. half of all So, it isn’t necessary to have a major
women aged over the age of 60 and one accident to suffer from a fracture
third of all men aged over 60 will have a caused by osteoporosis.
fracture caused by osteoporosis.
Bones are actually living tissues, just like WhAt cAuSeS oSteoporoSiS?
other parts of the body. the entire
skeleton continually breaks down old Many factors can contribute to the
bone and makes new bone to keep it breakdown of bone seen in osteoporosis.
healthy and strong. As you age, your these are called risk factors.
body breaks down more bone than it in women, the loss of oestrogen after
makes. osteoporosis occurs when both menopause is one of the most
the density and the strength of your important causes. there are several
bones decrease so that your bones other risk factors that may contribute.
become thinner and are more likely Some of these you can change and
to break. some you can’t.
the bones most likely to break are in the
spine, hip and wrist. other bones that
may be affected are the shoulder, ribs
and pelvis. Although fractures often
cause pain, breaks in the spine
may not, and can go unnoticed until
they cause height loss and perhaps
even a curved back.
Many people with osteoporosis have no
symptoms at all, so you may not even
have been aware that you have it.
Some things that can increase your How is osteoporosis DiAgnoseD?
chance of getting osteoporosis or having
a fracture caused by osteoporosis that osteoporosis is often diagnosed after you
you can’t change are: have had a fracture. Your doctor will
check to see if you have some of the risk
• A parent or grandparent who has or factors for osteoporosis.
had osteoporosis or a fracture caused
by osteoporosis Your doctor may order an X-ray to see if
you have any fractures in your spine.
• Having certain diseases such as one of the most important tests is a
rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease, Bone Mineral Density (BMD) scan. this
an over-active thyroid or parathyroid test will show whether you have
gland osteoporosis. it is a quick and painless
test which measures the density of your
• Having taken or taking long-term
spine and hip bones.
steroids (eg prednisolone)
Foot ultrasound tests that are often
• Being aged over 60 years.
performed in pharmacies are generally
Some things that can contribute to regarded as not being very accurate.
having a fracture that you can do
• Having a diet low in calcium
• Being a smoker
• Drinking a large amount of alcohol
• Doing little or no physical activity
wHAt treAtMents Are AvAilABle? • Do regular weight-bearing activities
and strength-training exercises
improving the quality of bone and • Minimise your risk of falling by
prevention of fractures are the aims wearing low-heeled shoes with good
of treatment. ideally, this would mean grip, avoiding slippery surfaces,
preventing the first fracture. correcting impaired vision where
however, if you have already had a possible, removing loose rugs and
fracture there are several different improving poor lighting in your home
treatments available to reduce your risk • Attend a “falls-prevention” programme
of having more fractures. Your doctor will at your local health service
be able to tell you about them and you
can decide together which is the most • Quit smoking if you are a smoker
appropriate and which would suit you
the best. • Keep alcohol to a minimum – 2 drinks
per day with 2 alcohol-free days
wHAt cAn i Do to Keep My
Bones HeAltHy? • Keep taking your medicine for
osteoporosis as prescribed by
there are things you can do to lower your doctor
your chance of breaking a bone.
• include adequate amounts of calcium
in your diet - ie 3 serves of low fat dairy
products each day. After menopause,
women need 1000 – 1300mg of
• Maintain good levels of vitamin D
by getting 10 – 20 minutes of sun
exposure on the arms and face daily
outside the peak hours of 10am – 3pm
wHere cAn i get furtHer
Further information about osteoporosis is
osteoporosis Australia on
1800 242 141 or
if you have any other questions about
osteoporosis, please ask your doctor
servier laboratories (Aust) pty ltd
p.o. Box 196 Hawthorn victoria 3122
ABn: 54 004 838 500