Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease as many people don’t know they have it until they suffer a fracture. The best way to diagnose osteoporosis is through a DEXA scan, however there are a few warning signs to be aware of:
Osteoporosis is hereditary, which means it runs in families. If a close family relative has had osteoporosis or suffered a fracture linked to osteoporosis, then your risk is much greater.
Scientists have established that genetic factors contribute to osteoporosis by “influencing bone mineral density (BMD), and other phenotypes that are associated with fracture risk,” say researchers.
While it’s not inevitable that you will develop osteoporosis if there’s a family history, your risk increases – and it’s something you should share with your doctor.
Women over 45 are at the most significant risk of developing osteoporosis. The figures are stark, with women four times as likely as men to develop osteoporosis. The real causes are unknown, but a women’s longer life span and thinner bones are suggested reasons.
Risk of osteoporosis increases in post-menopausal women. This occurs because the natural bone-building cycle is affected by the reduction in oestrogen women experience during and after menopause.
Medical professionals are increasingly aware of the links between osteoporosis and menopause and should spot the signs.
During a bone scan, your doctor may identify that your bone density is lower than average. Having lower bone density than normal is called osteopenia.
Having low bone density doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll develop osteoporosis, but is a clear warning sign that you shouldn’t ignore.
Having bones that break or fracture easily is a clear warning sign of osteoporosis. As Age UK warn, a fracture or break is often the first sign of osteoporosis for many people.
Bone injuries can occur from slips, trips, falls and other traumas. If you experience a break or fracture, chat with your doctor and ask whether it could be osteoporosis, particularly if you have any of the other warning signs.
Poor posture is often a warning sign of osteoporosis. Weak bones in the spine can fracture easily, which can cause problems with your posture. Compression fractures in the spine can be caused by everyday activities, such as opening a window.
Older people with osteoporosis can develop poor posture where they bend forward. It was unflatteringly called the “widow’s hump” and is a tell-tale sign of osteoporosis.
Poor posture alone won’t cause osteoporosis, but it can be a clear sign.
Diagnosing osteoporosis as early as possible is essential, and spotting these warning signs can help. If you’re worried about your risk of developing osteoporosis, speak to your doctor.