Osteoporosis Month: assess yourself and check with your doctor

Bone density and bone mass are problems many older people overlook too readily. But these are medical issues which should not be taken for granted, particularly by women.

Give your old bones some real consideration this month…

November is Osteoporosis Month and Osteoporosis Canada is working to focus public attention on the importance of building strong bones for life through awareness and education. Help spread awareness – visit osteoporosis.ca to find out ways to get involved.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder.

More than 80 percent of all fractures in people over 50 are caused by osteoporosis. At least one in three women and one in five men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime. The reduced quality of life for those with osteoporosis is enormous. Osteoporosis can result in disfigurement, lowered self-esteem. reduction or loss of mobility, and decreased independence.

Osteoporosis does not develop overnight. You can lose bone mass steadily for many years without experiencing any symptoms or signs of the disease until a bone fracture. For this reason, osteoporosis is often called “the silent thief’- literally stealing our bone mass without giving us any indication whatsoever. If osteoporosis is first diagnosed at the time a fracture occurs, it is already fairly advanced.

Assessment of risk and early detection of bone loss, therefore, are critical in preventing osteoporotic fractures.

If you have checked one or more of the boxes on the Osteoporosis risk factor checklist, Osteoporosis Canada recommends that you talk to your doctor to see if you need a bone mineral density test and about doing a comprehensive fracture risk assessment with FRAX, a fracture risk assessment tool, or CAROC (Canadian Association of Radiologists and Osteoporosis Canada Risk Assessment Tool).

Useful tools and resources

Online: Calculate your calcium
This online tool helps you to see how much calcium is in the foods you ate the previous day and calculates whether you met the daily target for your age group. osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-Canada-calcium-calculator

Over the phone: Toll-free information line
The information line is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST), Monday to Friday: At other times, callers may leave a message to have their call returned by a counsellor during business hours.

A bilingual toll-free information line gives you access to knowledgeable and understanding people who will answer your questions and send relevant information. English: 1-800-463-6842 / French: 1-800-977-1778

Canadian Osteoporosis Patient Network (COPN): COPN produces a regular e-newsletter with practical information on nutrition, exercise, medication, fall prevention and mare; inspiring personal stories from people living with osteoporosis; notification of local events; and the assurance that all information is vetted by the Scientific Advisory Council of Osteoporosis Canada.

COPN also sponsors regular webinars on topics of interest to people concerned about osteoporosis, presented by experts in the field.

To sign up, at no charge, go to osteoporosis.ca/copn.

Do the self-analysis relating to osteoporosis. Click:  risk factor CHECKLIST
Consider seeing your doctor with osteoporosis as one of your physical examination checklist items.

Reproduced with permission from Osteoporosis Canada

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