'Even lying in bed was uncomfortable' 

Phyllis Long, aged 60, was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis after months of experiencing upper back pain.

"I had severe pain in the right side of my upper back for about a month and decided I needed to see my GP. My back was so sore when anything touched it that even lying in bed was uncomfortable. It felt like my bones were sore.

"I went to see my GP in January and he wondered if I was experiencing thinning of my bones because of my age and medical history. I'd had a few breakages in the past 10 years. He referred me to a consultant orthopaedic and spine surgeon who prescribed diclofenac painkillers to keep the pain at bay.

"The consultant suggested I have an MRI scan on my back and a bone density scan on my back and hips, which would measure the calcium in my bones. The MRI showed that I had arthritis in my lower three vertebrae, and the bone density scan gave me my T score.

"I was told that the T score baseline was 0 and that a score between 1 and 3 would be 'normal'. Unfortunately, the scan revealed that my hips, at -1.3, were in the osteopenic level, and my spine, at -3, was in the osteoporotic level.

"The score meant that I definitely had osteoporosis, and that my back was worse than my hips. My doctor indicated that the emergency hysterectomy I had after the birth of my second child could have been a factor in developing osteoporosis. I was very taken aback. I'd led a healthy life, eating lots of fresh fruit and taking plenty of exercise. Plus, there was no history of osteoporosis in my family.

"My consultant told me that they would treat the condition with a tablet called alendronic acid, which I now have to take once a week for the rest of my life. It's from a group of non-hormonal medicines known as bisphosphonates, which prevent bone loss from the body.

"I walk regularly and am active in the garden. The medical advice was to continue all activity as normal, as exercise would help increase the amount of calcium in my bones.

"I had to provide a list of the foods I regularly ate so the doctor could see if there were any gaps in my diet. As I don't have a very large intake of calcium, the doctor also prescribed chewable calcium tablets for me to take daily.

"I was given a list of high-calcium content foods, such as yoghurt, semi-skimmed milk, cheeses, whitebait, sardines and spinach, which I was advised to eat to boost my calcium intake.

"Within 24 months, I'll have another bone scan and my doctor is confident that my bone density will have increased significantly. For now, I'm waiting for an appointment with a rheumatologist, who I assume will help me further in dealing with the condition."

Page last reviewed: 23/04/2014

Next review due: 23/04/2016