Osteoporosis: Causes, Effects, Prevention and Management

Posted by Deborah Lee on

DID YOU KNOW that the number of cases of hip fractures in women aged 50 and above has risen by FIVE times over the last 30 years?

Most often, hip fractures are caused by osteoporosis, a condition characterised by low bone density and and decreased bone strength. Up to 20% osteoporotic hip fracture victims die within a year.

With no obvious symptoms in the early stages, osteoporosis sufferers are commonly go undiagnosed till it's too late. Fortunately, if you understand the causes of osteoporosis, you'll find that you can work towards preventing the condition in yourself.


Lack of calcium: Osteoporosis is caused by bone loss as a result of lack of adequate calcium intake. When blood and tissue calcium levels are too low, the body uses calcium from the bones instead, causing the bones to weaken and become more brittle. 

Lack of exercise: Like our muscles, our bones need us to remain active to develop. Leading a sedentary lifestyle causes our bones to weaken and lead to osteoporosis.


In the later stages, osteoporosis symptoms include pain in the bones and muscles, especially around the lower back area. 

Sufferers tend to be more prone to hip, spine and wrist fractures due to weakened and brittle bones. They may also develop a loss of height due or stooped back.

Who Is At Risk

Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis as compared to men, as women lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5-7 years after menopause due to decrease in oestrogen levels. 

If you wish to find out if you are likely to develop osteoporosis, you can take a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test which allows you to understand your present bone health and make adjustments to your lifestyle accordingly.

Prevention And Management

A balanced diet and an active lifestyle are the two most effective ways to ensure bone health.

Balanced diet: Ensure an adequate daily intake of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods such as milk, dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified snacks, eggs, and fish.

Active lifestyle: Engage in regular exercise, as weight-bearing and resistance exercises such as hiking, brisk walking, yoga, and dance all increase bone density. Your body also absorbs vitamin D through exposure to the sun. At the same time, exercise increases your muscle strength thus reducing the risk of falls.

Fall prevention: As osteoporosis suffers are more susceptible to fractures from falls, it is important to eliminate risks where possible. This can be done in the form of ensuring there are sufficient grab bars, non-slip flooring and lighting at home, and also encouraging them to use appropriate walking aids for stability at home or outdoors.


Source: 'Keeping Your Bones Healthy', originally published in The Straits Times, Tuesday, October 18, 2016


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