Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become fragile and brittle and fracture (break or crack) more easily than normal bone. Osteoporosis occurs when the bones lose minerals, such as calcium, and thickness resulting in the bones becoming thinner and less dense. As a result, even a minor bump or fall can cause a serious fracture. Half of all women and one third of men over 60 will have a fracture due to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis and fractures are major causes of injury hospitalisation, long-term disability and even death in older Australians. One fifth of people who suffer a hip fracture will die within six months and of those who don’t die, one half will not be able to walk, bathe and carry out general daily chores without aid and even full-time nursing care.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease. There are usually no signs or symptoms until a fracture occurs. Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis but the most common ones are the bones in the hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper arm.