Osteoporosis literally means “porous bones” and is one of the most common bone diseases in the world.
As your body develops, new bone grows as old bone breaks down. However after age 40, your bones gradually lose density, as there’s less bone growth and more breaking down of bone. This is when osteoporosis can weaken bones, causing them to break more easily.
To understand how osteoporosis affects your bone, it’s useful to know how your bones are structured. Your bones have an outside section that’s hard and made of calcium – this protects the spongy, honeycomb-like interior of the bone. Osteoporosis affects both parts of the bone, but especially the inside. It causes the holes in the spongy honeycomb to get bigger, so the bone in between gets thinner and is weakened, making the bone more likely to break. Tiny fragments of the inside of your bones are released into your blood stream.
It can take years for the disease to develop and you might not be aware you have it until you break a bone. There is no real cure for osteoporosis, but if detected early, treatments can be used to slow it down or help stop it developing.
Our osteoporosis screen monitors the increase in the tiny fragments in your blood stream and can be used to monitor effectiveness of your hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with impaired bone development and potential bone softening disease; also tendon and ligament damage.
Osteoporosis screening can also be carried out through bone density scanning (DEXA) of various joints.
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Osteoporosis is often called the 'silent disease' and usually has no symptoms - that is, until you break or fracture a bone. Bone density scanning can calculate your risk in minutes. Here, we follow patient Sally Wood as she takes the test.