What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means ‘Porous Bones’. It occurs when the rate of bone renewal does not match the rate of breakdown, eventually resulting in weak, brittle bones. Sufferers generally do not realise they have the condition until they break a bone, by which time it is too late for them to take the most effective action1. Often, the condition is a result of a lifetime’s failure to take preventative measures: Osteoporosis has been referred to as a ‘Pediatric disease with geriatric consequences.’2

Normal Bone
Normal Bone
Osteoporotic Bone
Osteoporotic Bone










Facts and figures

The incidence of osteoporosis has almost doubled in the last 30 years3. In Britain in 1995 there were 200,000 osteoporosis related fractures a year, costing £750 million3. This is predicted to rise to 2.1 billion by 20204. This is without the indirect costs, such as pain, time off work, lost productivity, and the untold social effect on the families of patients.

Estimates vary, however it has been stated that after the age of 50, 1 in 2-3 women, and 1 in 5-12 men in the UK will sustain a fracture, in the main due to osteoporosis4. In fact, more women die each year from osteoporosis than die from cancer of the ovaries, uterus and cervix combined8. This is a frightening and unnecessary statistic for a condition that is both preventable and treatable.

The World Health Organisation suggests that health promotion and preventative measures are crucial for containing the effects of osteoporosis on the world population6,7.


Hip fracture

Of all of the fractures that occur as a result of osteoporosis, hip fracture is the most serious. One-fifth of hospital beds are occupied by people with hip fractures, and the combined cost of hospital and social care for patients with a hip fracture amounts to more than £1.73 billion per year in the UK4. Depending upon the estimate, white, postmenopausal women have a one in six or one in seven risk of sustaining a hip fracture in their lifetime4,9. This is higher than the risk of developing breast cancer4. Out of four women that suffer this type of fracture, only one will ever recover completely; the rest will suffer permanent disability10. Typically one in four will die within a year. The worst news, though, is that 80% of older women would rather die than experience the pain, disability, and reduced quality of life that follows from a serious hip fracture and subsequent admission into a nursing home4.


Combat Osteoporosis – it is preventable and treatable!

It is often difficult to get a bone density scan or treatment for osteoporosis4, even if you have already had a fragility fracture5(!) and it can be expensive to pay for a private appointment. I can offer you the chance to have your bone density checked, either by participating in – or hosting – a bone density awareness and testing day. I offer a heel quantitative ultrasound scan (or QUS), which has been shown to be a reliable indicator of bone density and fracture risk12-49 – in particular, of hip fracture risk27, 28,30,34,47.. QUS is comparatively reasonably priced, and free from radiation, as it uses sound waves rather than X rays to measure bone density. This type of test has been recommended as a ‘first step’ to educate yourself about your bone health and safeguard yourself against osteoporosis1. Find out more about the type of test I offer here.


Take Action!

If you have a bone density test with me, I will take the time to explain exactly what your results mean to you. I’ll also give you two sets of copies of your results – one to keep, and one to give to your GP. From my perspective, one of the most important things about having a test is that screening bone density and explaining the results of the scan to the individual has been shown to be a motivator of osteoporosis preventive behaviour50-52. In other words, after having a scan with me you will be much more likely to go out and actually act upon the advice that I give – much more than if I just gave you the advice on its own or, for example, handed out leaflets at a stall or stand53. From the results of this test, and the information and advice I give out, you, and your colleagues, employees, members or even friends will be better educated and motivated to help combat this illness, giving you all a greater chance of maintaining your bone density in later life.



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  3. Gorman, T. (1996). Osteoporosis, 26th June. Cited in Hansard, pp 314-315. Retrieved 4th April 2008 from: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1996/jun/26/osteoporosis
  1. The National Osteoporosis Society (2007). Osteoporosis Facts and Figures. Retrieved 5th April 2008 from: http://www.nos.org.uk/dr_media/nos/Osteoporosis_Facts_and_Figures_05-Apr-08.pdf
  1. Siris, E.S., Miller, P.D., Barrett-Connor, E., Faulkner, K.G., Wehren, L.E., Abbott, T.A., Berger, M.L., Santora, A.C., & Sherwood, L.M. (2001). Identification and Fracture Outcomes of Undiagnosed Low Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women. Results from the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment. JAMA, 286(22):pp. 2815-2822. Retrieved 28th September 2007 from: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/286/22/2815
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  5. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (2008). Retrieved 29thFebruary 2008 from: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00305&return_link=0
  6. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (2008). Retrieved 29thFebruary 2008 from: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00417
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