Osteoporosis is a disease where bone density is lost, and risk of breaking bones (fractures) increases. Fragility fractures occur in osteoporosis and are fractures that occur following a fall from standing height or less or with no trauma. The most common sites of fragility fracture are the spine (vertebral compression fractures), hip, and wrist. Fragility fractures also occur at the humerus, rib, and pelvis. One of the most serious type of fracture that can occur in osteoporosis is a hip fracture, which can occur as a result of a fall. There were an estimated nine million osteoporotic fractures worldwide in 2000.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also defined osteoporosis based on dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan measurements. As your bone density decreases, your risk of fracture increases. Your bone density is commonly expressed as a "T-score." A T-score that is equal to or less than -2.5 is consistent with a diagnosis of osteoporosis, a T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 is classified as low bone mass (osteopenia), and a T-score of -1.0 or higher is normal.
There are many risk factors which can lead to osteoporosis such as aging, a previous fracture, genetics, low body weight, medications (especially long term oral steroids), rheumatoid arthritis, poor nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol intake and non-active lifestyle.
As osteoporosis is known as a ‘silent’ disease, often you won’t know until you sustain a fracture.
Screening for osteoporosis is recommended in the following groups of people:
We will arrange a screening test called a DEXA (Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, which looks at bone density at the spine and hip, and can be used to predict your risk of further fracture. This takes around 20 mins and usually costs around $100 SGD. The T-score from the DEXA scan can be used to confirm whether you have osteoporosis or not. Your risk factor for getting a fracture can then be calculated using a special tool called the FRAX SCORE (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX)
People suffering from osteoporosis rarely notice any symptoms during its early stages, which is why osteoporosis is labelled as a ‘silent disease’. However, early detection is key to slow its progress and prevent complications. Visit an orthopaedic doctor today to get screened and receive necessary osteoporosis treatment.