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Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.
It's a fairly common condition that affects around three million people in the UK.Â More thanÂ 300,000 people receive hospital treatment for fragility fractures (fractures that occur from standing height or less) every year as a result of osteoporosis.
Wrist fractures, hip fracturesÂ and fractures of theÂ vertebrae (bones in the spine) are the most common type of breaks that affect people with osteoporosis. However, they can also occur in other bones, such as inÂ the arm, ribsÂ or pelvis.
There are usually no warnings you've developed osteoporosis andÂ it's often only diagnosed when a bone isÂ fractured afterÂ even minor falls.
Read more about the symptoms of osteoporosis.
During childhood, bones grow and repair very quickly, but this process slowsÂ as you get older.
Bones stop growing in length between the ages of 16 and 18, but continue to increase in density until you're in your late 20s.
You gradually start to lose bone densityÂ from about 35 years of age.Â Women lose bone rapidly in the first few years after the menopause (whenÂ monthlyÂ periodsÂ stop and the ovaries stop producing an egg).
Losing bone is a normal part of the ageing process, but for some people it can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
Other factors thatÂ increase your risk of developing osteoporosis include:
Read more about the causes of osteoporosis.
If your doctor suspects you have osteoporosis, they can make an assessment using anÂ online programme, such asÂ FRAX or Q-Fracture. They may also refer youÂ for a scan to measure your bone mineral density.
This type of scan is known as a DEXA (DXA) scan. It's a short, painless procedure and your bone mineral density can then be used to assessÂ your fracture risk.
Read more aboutÂ diagnosing osteoporosis.
Treatment for osteoporosis is based on treating and preventing fractures and using medication to strengthen bones.
The decision about what treatment you haveÂ ‐Â if anyÂ ‐ will depend on your risk of fracture. This will beÂ based on a number of factors,Â such as your age and the results of your DXA scan.
Read moreÂ about how osteoporosis is treated.
If you're at risk of developing osteoporosis, you shouldÂ take steps to help keep your bones healthy. This may include:
Read more about preventing osteoporosis.
To help you recover from a fracture, you can try using:
Speak to your GP or nurse if you're worried about living with a long-term condition. They may be able to answer any questions you have.
You may also find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor or psychologist or other peopleÂ with the condition.
Read more about living with osteoporosis.
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