Preventing fractures from osteoporosis

By ACC

Did you know at least one in three women and one in five men will suffer from a fracture caused by osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones’.

It’s a condition that causes bones to become thin and fragile, decreasing bone strength and making them prone to fractures.

Often you won’t know if you have osteoporosis as bone loss occurs without any obvious external symptoms.

The result is that bones break easily, even following a minor bump or fall.

Fractures due to osteoporosis area major cause of pain and often result in long-term disability and loss of independence.

Osteoporotic fractures are common, and after having one, the chance of having a second fracture doubles.

It’s essential that osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated to prevent further fractures.

Hip fractures are perhaps the most serious fracture caused by osteoporosis.

Importantly, half of people who break their hip have broken another bone before that occurs.

older man exercising with personal trainer

Living longer and living well

ACC, Osteoporosis New Zealand and the Ministry of Health are working together to help older people become more aware of the incidence of osteoporosis, how to improve their bone density and how to prevent falls.

The number of people in New Zealand over the age of 65 is expected to double in the next 20 years.

While we’re living longer, older people are more likely to spend a period of their later lives managing long term, and often complex, health conditions.

In particular, injuries from falls present a significant and increasing health and social cost.

There’s good evidence around interventions that work to support people’s wellness and help prevent falls and injury in older adults.

Developing an awareness and understanding of osteoporosis, how to recognise the signs and knowing what treatment is available to strengthen bones affected by this condition will assist in keeping older people stronger for longer.

How can I prevent fractures?

Awareness of risk and early diagnosis are key to the treatment of osteoporosis.

Building strong bones throughout your lifetime means you can continue to do the things you enjoy for longer.

There are a number of key things you can do to reach optimal bone mass and continue building and maintaining bone tissue as you get older.

  • exercise regularly
  • eat well
  • create healthy lifestyle habits
  • take osteoporosis medication if prescribed
  • talk to your doctor about your risk factors.

You can make simple changes at home to reduce the risk of falls by fall-proofing your home.

  • Reduce clutter at floor level
  • wear well-fitting shoes or slippers
  • make sure surfaces are slip proof
  • Have grab rails in your bathroom
  • make sure that the lighting is bright enough.

For more ideas on how to make your home safe you can complete the ACC home safety checklist.