What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when the struts that make up the mesh-like structure within bones become thin causing them to become fragile and break easily, often following a minor bump or fall. These broken bones are often referred to as “fragility fractures”. The term “fracture” and “broken bone” mean the same thing.
Although fractures can occur in different parts of the body, the wrists, hips and spine are most commonly affected. It is these broken bones or fractures which can lead to pain associated with osteoporosis. Spinal fractures can also cause loss of height and curvature of the spine.
- Almost one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone, mainly due to poor bone health.
- There are 300,000 fragility fractures in the UK every year.
- Almost 3 million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis.
What is a DXA Scan?
A DXA scan can tell if a bone is likely to be fragile and used in conjunction with other medical factors in your history and family history, can help to predict your risk of fracture.
The DXA scan being used at the Chiltern Health Centre is a peripheral scanner that takes a scan of the forearm. The scan will take approximately 2 minutes and is not in any way unpleasant. This technique uses a low radiation dose similar to natural background radiation (less than one tenth of the dosage of a chest x-ray).
What are the risk factors associated with osteoporosis?
- Parental history of osteoporosis or broken bone after a minor fall
- Personal history of broken bone after a minor fall
- Age – bone loss increases in later life so by the age of 75 about half of the population will have osteoporosis
- Gender – Women have smaller bones than men and menopause accelerates the process of bone turnover. Therefore women over the age of 50 are more at risk
- Low body weight – If you have a low BMI (< 19g/m2) you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis
The Chiltern Health Centre is an advocate for osteoporosis prevention and has become a member of the Allied Health Professional Network set up by the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
If any of these risk factors affect you, or you are concerned about the health of your bones, the Chiltern Health Centre is offering a FREE bone density scan of the forearm at the Sutton clinic. An immediate bone calculation will be given and a copy will be provided for you to take away.