Osteoporosis is a condition in which the density and quality of bones are reduced.
The direct effect to bones is that it makes them weak, brittle and more likely to fracture.
There are usually no symptoms of osteoporosis until a bone breaks. Osteoporosis Care – Treatment and prevention focuses on lifestyle changes and medications to boost bone density.
All men and women have some risk of developing osteoporosis as they become older, particularly over the age of 60. Women are more at risk than men. Other risk factors include early menopause (age <45), smoking, high alcohol intake, lack of physical activity, lack of calcium and/or vitamin D, low body weight, a strong family history of osteoporosis, and certain medical conditions.
In New Zealand, osteoporosis affects approximately 50% of women and 30% of men over the age of 60 years. It is more common in European and Asian New Zealanders but everyone will experience some loss of bone density as they age.
Osteoporosis does not cause any day to day physical symptoms – the first indication is a fracture occurring with only a minor injury or fall (fragility fracture). Fragility fractures are most commonly of the hip, wrist, and vertebrae.
The condition can be diagnosed by a DEXA scan – this can be done privately at Hibiscus Radiology at the cost of $175 (February 2014). Some patients may be eligible for a funded scan at NorthShoreHospital.
A Note of Caution: Tests done at a Chemist – Ultrasound Heel Scan – are not considered accurate for diagnosis of Osteoporosis. We recommend discussing any concerns with your doctor.
Osteoporosis Care – The condition is treated by medication to reduce bone loss – there are two main treatments used currently: Fosamax (Alendronate) – a tablet taken once a week, or Aclasta (Zolendronate) – an intra-venous treatment given every 18 months.
For more information on osteoporosis please see Osteoporosis New Zeland