What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a health condition which weakens bone density causing brittleness that can lead to breakages. As it develops slowly and over time, any sudden impact or falling can lead to fractures or breaks resulting in a diagnosis of osteoporosis, only afterwards. Most common injuries occur in the wrist, hip and back areas however other bones can be affected. Those affected tend to experience pain only after a bone has broken. 

“Osteoporosis affects over 3 million people in the UK. More than 500,000 people receive hospital treatment for fragility fractures (bones that break after falling from standing height or less) every year as a result of osteoporosis.” (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoporosis/)

As women lose bone density more rapidly after experiencing menopause, they have an increased risk of osteoporosis than men, even more so if menopause started early. However, this condition can still affect many people, men and women of all ages and children. 


The loss of bone density is a normal part of ageing however osteoporosis speeds up this process. 

The causes of osteoporosis can be increased by many factors, these include;

  • high dose of steroid tablets taken for three months or longer
  • a family history of osteoporosis 
  • those affected by eating disorders
  • heavy drinking and smoking
  • not exercising regularly
  • low BMI
  • certain medications that affect bone strength or hormone levels
  • other medical conditions such as inflammatory conditions

If osteoporosis is suspected, your GP may send you for a bone density scan (DEXA scan). This measures your bone strength and bone density against a healthy young adult in a short procedure that is painless.

Three treatment options:

Osteoporosis treatment often includes medication to strengthen the bones, making sure patients get enough calcium and vitamin D by looking at their diet or taking a supplement equivalent.

Regular exercise is crucial to maintain healthy bone density making sure adults exercise for at least 2 hours of moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise every week to help prevent injury. 

Getting help and support from a professional osteopath can be beneficial for the prevention of injury in the future. An osteopath can assess the patient’s condition and give relevant advice on diet, exercise and a treatment plan, including sessions in the clinic. Helping prevent further breaks and injury to reduce pain and manage symptoms is the most important part of treatment. Patients suffering with severe cases of osteoporosis are advised to contact their GP.