Osteoporosis – Helping Hand

Tuesday, 11th July 2017

At the National Osteoporosis Society, we understand that fractures can have shocking effects on day-to-day life. We are committed to helping people with osteoporosis live the lives they want to lead and we work every day to prevent future fractures.

As the only UK-wide charity dedicated to ending the pain and suffering caused by osteoporosis we are here for anyone affected by the condition, providing help and support for people with osteoporosis now.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose their strength and are more likely to break, usually following a minor bump or fall. Broken bones are also referred to as ‘fractures’ (the words mean the same thing). Fractures that occur because of reduced bone strength are described as ‘fragility fractures’ and many of these will be caused by osteoporosis. One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 experience fractures in their lifetime. Although broken bones caused by osteoporosis can happen in various parts of the body, the wrists, hips and spine are the most commonly affected sites.

After the age of about 35 years, the difference between the amount of bone that is removed and the amount of bone that is laid down starts to get slightly out of balance as part of the ageing process. As a result, the total amount of bone tissue starts to decrease. This is often described as ‘bone loss’ or ‘bone thinning’. It doesn’t mean your bones look any different from the outside. However, inside, the cortical ‘shell’ thins and the struts that make up the inner structure become thinner and sometimes break down. This results in the holes in the honeycomb structure becoming larger – hence the description ‘osteoporosis’, literally meaning ‘porous bone’.

This change in the quality of your bones is much more likely and more significant as you move into later life, which explains why bones become more fragile and fractures become more common in old age.

What are we doing to combat osteoporosis?

The more we can get people talking about osteoporosis, the better care, support and help we and the NHS can give to people affected by the condition. The charity works in a number of ways to do this, including:

  • Working with the most respected clinicians in the country on research projects designed to help our understanding of osteoporosis and ultimately to work towards a cure.
  • Working alongside the NHS in setting up and improving Fracture Liaison Services – clinics that identify people at risk of osteoporosis and ensure they’d diagnosed quickly and put on an appropriate treatment, to avoid the multiple broken bones that can occur if people don’t know they have osteoporosis.
  • We also work with celebrity ambassadors such as Miriam Margolyes and Diana Moran who help us by attending events, or speaking to the press.

What are we doing to raise awareness?

The charity runs a number of awareness campaigns throughout the year to encourage conversations about healthy bones.

We’ve recently launched A Message to My Younger Self (www.mys.nos.org.uk) asking people to speak to the generations below about what they can do when they’re younger to keep their bones strong and help as much as possible to prevent some of the devastating consequences of osteoporosis – the painful fractures.

The campaign focuses around a healthy balanced diet with lots of vitamin D and calcium, and encourages people to take weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or dancing, to give their bones everything that is needed to keep them as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Would you like to know more?

If you’re concerned about osteoporosis or have broken a bone and would like to know more, then take our online quiz to find out whether you are at risk https://stopatone.nos.org.uk/

Where can I go for help?

The National Osteoporosis Society is the only UK-wide charity supporting people with the condition. We have a free Helpline, staffed by specialist nurses – call 0808 800 0035 or email nurses@nos.org.uk, a website www.nos.org.uk and support groups in a number of different regions.