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Step up for your bone health

When Amanda Bath slipped on a tile and broke her foot it took many more weeks than it should have to heal.

Her doctor’s concern led to a DEXA scan to measure Amanda’s bone density.

Her shock diagnosis was osteoporosis – a chronic condition that weakens bones over time, making them more likely to break.

“My doctor fast-tracked treatment – prescribing Denosumab injections, Vitamin D and calcium supplements, as well as lifestyle changes like limiting alcohol.

“Once the fracture healed, I got straight back into weight-bearing exercise, knowing this could help me build stronger bones and improve my coordination and balance to prevent further breaks.”

Osteoporosis is vastly underdiagnosed and undertreated. It is often called the silent disease because there are usually no signs or pain until the first break.

Worldwide, millions of people at high risk of fracturing bones remain unaware of the underlying disease.

In Australia, osteoporosis is quite common. It affects over 1.39 million Australians and approximately 15 per cent of the Australian population aged over 50 years. Osteopenia, an early sign of osteoporosis, affects a further 52 per cent of people in this age bracket.

October 20 is World Osteoporosis Day and this year’s theme is “Step up for bone health”.

Its key message is that a bone-healthy lifestyle is vital for strong bones and a mobile, fracture-free future. It urges people to “step up for bone health” by ensuring:

  • Regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise
  • A nutritious bone-healthy diet and adequate vitamin D
  • No smoking and avoiding excessive alcohol intake

Say no to the Big O, an Australian campaign led by Amgen, advises people not to wait for a fall to see if they have it. “Take control of your bone health today and make an appointment with your doctor.”

The campaign also stresses that for people over 70 the first DEXA scan is bulk billed; and despite pervasive myths, osteoporosis doesn’t just affect women, men can get it too.

Protecting your bone health

  • Discover if you’re at risk of osteoporosis by answering a few simple questions using The Big O educational tool
  • Make an appointment with your doctor – and you can check what information you’ll need to have on hand for this appointment on The Big O website.
  • If your doctor thinks you’re at risk, you can ask them to organise a DEXA scan (a special X-ray) to measure your bone density. It’s quick, painless and you may be eligible for a rebate.
  • A standard X-ray may suffice if you’ve suffered a recent break.

Amanda says, “Don’t be shocked like me to find you have a chronic condition. Take your bone health seriously beforeyou break a bone. It’s so easy.

“Much easier than the severe impact a fracture will have on your independence.”


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