Up to half of women over 50 in the UK will suffer from an osteoporosis related fracture according to The National Osteoporosis Society, however, many do not know that they have the condition until they break a bone. Many of BMI Healthcare’s 49 hospitals now offer a quick and easy way to find out if you are at risk.
Bone density reduces as our bones get older and osteoporosis occurs when the bones become so fragile that they break easily. The most common breaks are in the wrist, spine and hip. While all are painful, those in the spine can result in long-term pain. Curvature of the spine and height loss can also be caused by osteoporosis.
Although there are no symptoms, there are some indicating factors which may mean an individual is at greater risk. These include an early menopause or the removal of ovaries before the age of 45, a history of missed periods, or a family history of osteoporosis or fractures. The most accurate and reliable way to diagnose osteoporosis is to have a DEXA scan to measure bone density.
Dr Michael Chard, consultant rheumatologist at BMI Goring Hall commented, “Awareness of osteoporosis is far lower than other diseases affecting large numbers of women, such as breast cancer, so unfortunately it goes largely undetected. Generally, the first time people know they have the disease is when they break a bone, which in some cases can have very severe consequences. A simple DEXA scan can spot the early signs. Lifestyle adjustments can then be made to manage the condition or to help prevent it from developing.”
Jan Hale had a scan at her local BMI Hospital a few months ago and discovered that her bones were osteopenic. This is a condition where there is decreased calcification or density of bone and places Jan at risk for developing osteoporosis.
Jan commented, “I had a scan several years ago at the hospital I work at and got the all clear. Over the last few years I have watched my mother become smaller and stoop more. I knew in the back of my mind I was at risk and should have regular check-ups. My recent scan revealed that I was indeed osteopenic and I have since adjusted my diet and lifestyle, in order to manage the condition. I feel glad to have the opportunity to shape my future. Cutting down on caffeine, eating calcium rich foods and increasing my exercise will, I’m sure, benefit me greatly in all areas of my health, and could help to prevent me getting osteoporosis in the future.”
Anyone who feels that they might be at risk can have a scan for a fixed price. The results of the scan are sent to a consultant within the hospital for evaluation. The consultant will then send the results and a written interpretation to the individual and their GP, together with advice on whether further investigation or treatment is required.
It is not only women who suffer from the condition, about one in five men over the age of 50 will also suffer an osteoporosis related fracture.
For further information on osteoporosis, DEXA scans and BMI Healthcare hospitals, visit www.bmiwomenshealth.co.uk/os or call 0800 0568751.