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What is osteoporosis? What you need to know

Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes bones to become weak and fragile with an increased risk of broken bones after a fall.

Osteoporosis affects around 3 million people in the UK.

Each year, osteoporosis is responsible for around 250,000 bone fractures.

What is osteoporosis bone loss?

The bone loss with osteoporosis occurs over many years and is severe. It's so severe that the normal stress on bones from sitting, standing, coughing or even hugging a loved one can result in painful fractures and immobility. After the first fracture, you are at risk for more fractures. These future fractures may cause you to live with daily chronic pain, and in some cases, some degree of disability.

What are osteoporosis symptoms?

Osteoporosis often progresses without symptoms or pain. Losing height may be noticeable or a dowager's hump may develop with age. However a doctor usually diagnoses osteoporosis after a painful fracture occurs.

That fracture is usually in the back, wrist or hip. Painful fractures are debilitating and disfiguring. They can result in loss of mobility and independence.

The good news is if you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, you can get treatments. Those osteoporosis treatments can slow bone loss, increase the amount of bone you have and lower your chances of fractures. However there's no reason to wait until you can't reverse how weak your bones have become. Detecting osteopenia with a bone density test is easy. From there making a plan to prevent disfiguring and painful fractures is simple.

What is an osteoporosis fracture?

A fracture is a break in a bone. If you have osteoporosis, your bones become thin, lose structure and become fragile. You can lift a bag of groceries and suffer a fracture or a collapsed vertebra in your back. Or you can stoop down to tie your shoe and feel a sudden, severe pain from a fracture.

While the pain from the fracture may subside, you may develop continued chronic pain. As spinal bones collapse, deformities in your spine - such as a dowager's hump - and other areas will become obvious to you and people around you. You may feel stiff most of the time and have trouble being active.

There are ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis. So no-one has to suffer with fractures and chronic pain. Learn more about preventing fractures in this guide. Then you have the best chance of staying active all your life.

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