Living with osteoporosis
Having osteoporosis doesn't mean you'll definitely have a fracture.
There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of a fall or break.
Making some simple changes at home can help reduce the risk of fracturing or breaking a bone in a fall.
Check your home for hazards you may trip over, such as trailing wires. Make sure rugs and carpets are secure, and keep rubber mats by the sink and in the bath to prevent slipping.
Have regular sight tests and hearing tests. Some older people may need to wear special protectors over their hips to cushion a fall. Your GP can offer help and advice about changes to your lifestyle.
Read more about preventing falls.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has also produced guidance called Falls: the assessment and prevention of falls in older people.
Healthy eating and exercise
Regular exercise and a healthy diet are important for everyone, not just people with osteoporosis. They can help prevent many serious conditions, including heart disease and many forms of cancer.
You should ensure you have a balanced diet that contains all the food groups to give your body the nutrition it needs. Exercising regularly can increase bone strength, relieve stress and reduce fatigue.
The National Osteoporosis Society has produced leaflets about Exercise and osteoporosis (PDF, 1.6Mb) and Healthy living for strong bones (PDF, 2.37Mb) that give further information and advice about diet and exercise.
Getting support hide
Your GP or nurse may be able to answer any questions you have about living with osteoporosis and can reassure you if you're worried.
You may also find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor or psychologist, or to someone at a specialist helpline. Your GP surgery will have information about these.
Some people find it helpful to talk to others with osteoporosis, either at a local support group or in an internet chat room.
The National Osteoporosis Society provide a helpline service run by nurses with specialist knowledge of osteoporosis and bone health.
Call 0845 450 0230 or 01767 472 721. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can provide you with details of local support groups and also have an online discussion forum.
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Recovering from a broken bone show
Broken bones usually take six to eight weeks to recover. Having osteoporosis doesn't affect how long this takes. Recovery depends on the type of fracture you have. Some fractures heal easily, but others may require more intervention.
If you have a complicated wrist fracture or hip fracture, you may need an operation to make sure the bone is set properly. Hip replacements are often needed after hip fractures, and some people may lose mobility as a result of weakened bones.
Osteoporosis can cause a loss of height as a result of fractures in the spinal column. This means the spine is no longer able to support your body's weight and causes a hunched posture.
This can be painful when it occurs, but it may also lead to long-term (chronic) pain. Your GP or nurse may be able to help with this.
During the healing process, you may need the help of a physiotherapist or occupational therapist so you can make as full a recovery as possible.
Read more about physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
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Coping with pain show
Everyone experiences pain differently, so what works for you may differ from what works for someone else.
There are a number of different ways of managing pain, including:
You can use more than one of these techniques at the same time to manage your pain – for example, you could combine medication, a heat pack and relaxation techniques.
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Working and money show
You should be able to continue to work if you have osteoporosis. It's very important that you remain physically active and have a fulfilled lifestyle.
This will help keep your bones healthy and stop you focusing too much on your potential health problems. However, if your work involves the risk of falling or breaking a bone, seek advice from your employer, GP and the National Osteoporosis Society about how to limit your risk of having an accident or injury that could lead to a bone break.
If you can't continue working, you may be eligible for disability benefits, such as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). People over 65 who are severely disabled may qualify for a disability benefit called Attendance Allowance.
Help for carers
You may also be entitled to certain benefits if you care for someone with osteoporosis.
Read more about benefits for carers.
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A group of over-60s talk about how using a playground designed especially for them has helped them stay active, social, confident and independent.
Media last reviewed: 17/06/2015
Next review due: 17/06/2017
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Page last reviewed: 23/04/2014
Next review due: 23/04/2016