My name is Sarah Leyland. I am an osteoporosis nurse
and I work at the National Osteoporosis Society
as helpline supervisor.
If I was given a diagnosis of osteoporosis,
I would want to talk to my doctor about first, what was meant by osteoporosis.
Had I simply a low bone density on a scan,
a risk factor that I need to think about,
maybe make lifestyle changes and perhaps take a treatment,
or was there any suggestion that I had these fractures already?
Have I got bones that have crumbled in my spine
contributing to the pain problems I have?
Then I think looking at ways of managing pain
and reducing those problems would be important,
for instance, a referral to a physiotherapist
to look at back-strengthening exercises
and different methods of pain management would be useful.
National Osteoporosis Society Helpline.
(Sarah) Osteoporosis is a condition when bones become fragile
and they break more easily.
These broken bones or fractures lead to the problems.
The common sites for fractures are the wrist,
the hip and spinal fractures,
which is when the bones in the spine become compressed and squashed down.
This can cause the pain, the loss of height,
the curvature of the spine that we associate with osteoporosis.
Having thin bones doesn't give you any signs or symptoms at all.
It's really only when you break a bone very easily, or in later life,
people notice that they've lost a number of inches in height
and their body shape is changing with this curvature of the spine.
So there really is no way of knowing that you have thin bones
unless you break something.
We do have something called bone density scans now
which help to measure the amount of bone you've got
and indicate how strong your bones might be.
They are certainly very useful in some situations.
Osteoporosis and the fractures it causes are more common in later life.
We all lose a certain amount of bone as we get older,
but some things make osteoporosis more likely.
So if you're on corticosteroids as a treatment for another condition,
that can thin the bones, if you have an early menopause,
if you've got a very strong family history,
particularly if one of your parents broke a bone easily earlier in life.
So these things can make it more likely that you'll have osteoporosis.
There are drug treatments, a number of treatments, for osteoporosis.
These help to strengthen the bone
and make the chance of breaking bones less likely.
They reduce your risk of a fracture.
They're not given preventatively,
so they wouldn't be given in case you broke a bone necessarily.
You would need to have a number of risk factors
as well as this low bone density on a scan,
that would be the normal situation.
There are lifestyle things you can do to help keep bones strong.
Exercise is important from childhood,
when we're building up our bone strength, through into later life,
when we're certainly trying to keep bones strong
but we also are trying to prevent ourselves becoming frail
and poor in our coordination and balance.
Then you're more likely to fall, so exercise is one thing,
but you also need to eat a well-balanced, calcium-rich diet,
lots of fruit and vegetables.
We know other things, too, are not good for bones,
so avoiding smoking, avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol,
avoiding very low body weight, but it's also about building confidence,
being fitter and healthier into old age,
so you don't become a frailer old person who falls over.
So it's about a bigger, broader picture,
not just about the bone strength.
I would consider ringing the National Osteoporosis Society.
We've got lots of leaflets, booklets,
membership if you want regular information.
We also have a helpline.
You can write, email, phone us and we can discuss your situation
and help you come to decisions
about changes you might need to make, help that's available.