Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Bend to Osteoporosis!

Today, October 20, 2010 is World Osteoporosis Day (WOD). This day provides an all-important focal point for informing and educating the general public and policy makers about the prevention of a disease which still suffers from poor general awareness. With the number of participating countries and scheduled events increasing steadily year by year, the impact of WOD has grown significantly.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by low bone mass and deterioration in the microarchitecture of bone tissue, leading to an increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis occurs when the bone mass decreases more quickly than the body can replace it, leading to a net loss of bone strength. As a result bones become fragile, so that even a slight bump or fall can lead to bone fractures. These are known as fragility fractures. Osteoporosis has no signs or symptoms until a fracture occurs – this is why it is often called a ‘silent disease’.

Osteoporosis affects all bones in the body however fractures occur most frequently in the vertebrae(spine), wrist and hip. Osteoporotic fractures of the pelvis, upper arm and lower leg are also common and are associated with significant disability. Fragile bones are not painful but the broken bones that result cause pain and increased morbidity and mortality.

Hip Fractures
Hip fractures are the most devastating fracture in terms of morbidity and mortality, as 20% of those who suffer a hip fracture die within 6 months after the fracture. Most hip fractures take place after a fall. The exponential rise in rates of hip fracture with age in both men and women results from both an age-related decrease in bone mass at the proximal femur and the age related increase in falls.

Vertebra Fractures
Vertebral fractures are the most common caused by routine activities such as bending forward, twisting and/or lifting light objects. Falls are also associated with vertebral fractures. The prevalence (the number of fractures at any one time in a community) of vertebral fractures is similar in men and women. In men this is thought to be occupation associated. However the incidence (number of new fractures) of vertebral fracture is about one third higher in women than men between 50-60 years, and doubles after age 70.

Wrist Fractures
Most wrist fractures happen in women, occurring earlier than hip and vertebral fractures, with the incidence increasing with age. The incidence of wrist fractures in men is low and does not increase with age.

The key message is "Don’t miss the signs of a breaking spine."

Three major signs of vertebral fractures are height loss, back pain, and a stoop.

No comments: