Osteoporosis - patient education

Osteoporosis - patient education

Oak Valley Health's patient education pages share the skills, knowledge, and habits patients and families need to know to cope with a daily health issue. We hope this information can influence patient behaviour to improve health outcomes and provide you with a sense of control and autonomy.

Learn more about the risks, causes, and treatment of osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is characterized by bone thinning and loss of bone density. Osteoporosis weakens bones, making them more likely to break (fracture). Osteoporosis can weaken your bones to the point where they can fracture even after a minor fall. Osteoporosis is most likely to fracture bones in the hip, wrist, and spine.

What causes osteoporosis?

The exact cause is unknown in most situations, however there are some identifiable causes that your healthcare provider can help assess including certain medications and metabolic conditions.

What increases the risks?
  • A family history of osteoarthritis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Use of steroid medicines (such as prednisone)
  • Female gender
  • Age 50 or older
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Caucasian or Asian ethnicity
  • Small body frame
How do I know that I have osteoporosis?
  • Your family physician should do a bone density test that can help identify osteoporosis if you are over the age of 65 (they may test at a younger age if you have certain risk factors)
  • Another potential sign of osteoporosis is loss of height (>2cm)
How is this treated?
  • Making lifestyle changes (e.g. healthy diet, regular physical activity)
  • Taking medication to slow the deterioration of bones or increase bone density if medically indicated
  • Taking daily supplements of calcium and vitamin D
  • Taking hormone replacement medicines if medically indicated
Please contact your doctor or health care provider if:
  • You have never had an osteoporosis screening and you are:

    • A woman who is at least 65 years old

    • A man who is at least 70 years old

If you have been diagnosed with 0steoporosis, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately if:
  • You have fallen
Where can I get more information?

Reference: Osteoporosis. (2021, June 08). Elsevier Inc: ClinicalKey for Nursing. Retrieved from here.