Recognising the Signs of Osteoporosis

Written by on July 1, 2021 in Stuff with 0 Comments

Osteoporosis is one of those conditions which can sneak up on you almost without you noticing. Indeed, it is easy to mistake some of the symptoms of osteoporosis as just the normal aches and pains of old age.

The NHS says that the condition affects around 3 million people in the UK. Over half a million of these need hospital treatment for osteoporosis-related bone fractures. The NHS state that those affected are mainly post-menopausal women.

Osteoporosis slowly develops over several years and weakens bones to a state of fragility. Often a diagnosis is received only after a fracture following a fall. Sometimes a cough or sneeze is all it takes to fracture a rib or damage a bone in the spine. The most common injuries from osteoporosis are broken hips, broken vertebrae or broken wrists.

Because falls are a common cause of fractures for older people, live-in care at home often plays a part in helping to prevent these, because a care giver will notice any changes in their client which can indicate that they may be at risk of bone fractures through osteoporosis. Even a daily visiting domiciliary care worker may be alert to such signs.

How to Spot the Signs of Possible Osteoporosis

There are few outward signs until a bone is fractured. However, there are ways to identify those at risk of osteoporosis. Post-menopausal women who are vitamin D deficient are by far the biggest risk group. This is because they can lose bone rapidly following the menopause. Other risk factors include:

  • Taking high dose corticosteroids for more than 3 months.
  • A family history of osteoporosis.
  • Long-term inflammation, malabsorption or hormone-related conditions.
  • Long-term use of certain medicines such as anti-oestrogen tablets.
  • Previously having an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia.
  • Having a low BMI figure.
  • Not exercising regularly.
  • Heavy drinking and smoking.

If your doctor identifies a risk of osteoporosis, they can refer you for a bone density scan to measure your bone strength. If necessary, they could refer you for treatment which could include medication or advise you to increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D.

Other Signs of Osteoporosis

Signs such as a slight loss in height, a change in posture like a stoop or a new curvature of the spine are all signs that are easy to miss day to day. However, a full-time home care services provider would find them more noticeable. It’s normal to lose some height as we age but if you notice a height loss of two inches or more, or you are stooping more than usual, you should not ignore these signs. It is advisable that you see your doctor to ascertain whether you have osteoporosis and start treatment if necessary. If you have regular medical check-ups with a doctor or practice nurse, you could ask them to keep a record of your height or you could ask your care giver or a family member to do this for you. Take note of any new difficulty in getting up from a chair without having to push up with your arms, or any new joint and muscle aches.

Osteoporosis is not inevitable but by staying vigilant and keeping active you can avoid the tell-tale fractures it causes.

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