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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of osteoporosis

Mate kōiwi

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to be thinner and weaker than normal. This means they can break easily, such as after a small bump or a fall from standing height or less.

Osteoporosis affects one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50.

Some people are more likely to get osteoporosis than others. To find out about your bone health, you can do a simple test called Know Your Bones.

You cannot change some of the risk factors that increase your likelihood of getting osteoporosis, such as your sex or age, but you can change others.

Risk factors you may be unable to change include:

You can reduce your risk of getting osteoporosis by strengthening your bones. You can achieve this by keeping physically active, getting enough vitamin D and calcium in your diet, not smoking and not drinking excess alcohol.

Symptoms of osteoporosis

There are no early warning symptoms or signs with osteoporosis. The first signs can include:

With more severe osteoporosis, you can fracture a bone doing ordinary things like bending, lifting or just getting up from a chair.

Diagnosing osteoporosis

Your doctor can assess your risk of osteoporosis from your medical history and by asking you about your lifestyle. They can look for physical signs of osteoporosis such as previous fractures.

They may suggest you have a bone density scan (also called DEXA scan) to assess your bone health.

Treating osteoporosis

There are good treatments that can slow the progression of osteoporosis and help to stop you getting broken bones. These include lifestyle measures and medications.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Reducing your risk of osteoporosis

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2023.


Page reference: 46646

Review key: HIOSP-24517