There is no bone of contention about the silent disease

There is no bone of contention about the silent disease

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Osteoporosis (or fragile bones) usually has no signs or symptoms until a fracture occurs; this is why it is often called a ‘silent disease.’

Many people are surprised when diagnosed with this condition, and in fact may not know they have it until they break or crack a bone from a seemingly insignificant fall or bump.

People are often even more surprised to learn that it is not only older women who are affected. While one in every two women will experience a fracture after the age of 50 due to osteoporosis, so will one in every five men.

Both older men and women are susceptible to the devastation of a hip fracture.

Reasons for occurrence

Osteoporosis occurs when bone structures deteriorate from middle age onwards. Bone mass decreases more quickly than the body can replace it, leading to a net loss of bone strength. As a result, the skeleton becomes fragile, so that even a slight bump or fall can lead to a broken bone, (referred to as a fragility fracture).

Bone fractures (breaks and/or cracks) impose great suffering on affected individuals and their families, as well as substantial costs to society.

Approximately 50% of people with one osteoporotic fracture will have another, with 80% of re-fractures occurring within the year after initial fracture.

Growing problem

Osteoporosis is a growing public health problem.

The risk of sustaining a fracture increases exponentially with age due not only to the decrease in bone mineral density, but also due to the increased rate of falls among the elderly, who represent the fastest growing segment of the population.

Thus, as life expectancy increases for most of the world’s population, the financial and human costs associated with osteoporotic fractures will increase dramatically unless preventive action is taken.

Ethnic groups at risk

The three ethnic groups that are most at risk of developing Osteoporosis are those of European, Asian and Indian decent.

A recent study called,  ‘Prevalence of Osteoporosis in Apparently Healthy Adults above 40 Years of Age in Pune City, India’ was published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. It said that in Indian men a low T‑score compared to women indicates higher susceptibility to osteoporosis and in women, menopause causes a rapid decline in bone mineral density.

Therefore, both Indian men and postmenopausal women require adequate measures to prevent osteoporosis during later years in life.

Need to lift awareness

Currently public awareness of osteoporosis is very limited.

Most people never think about their bones, they have never seen them so just take it for granted. Not many realise that the average human skeleton is replaced every eight to ten years, no matter if they are 12 or 92 years old. Nor that childhood and adolescence are the critical periods in skeletal development which will determine the size and strength of an individual’s skeleton (peak bone mass).

This is usually achieved between 20 and 25 years. For every 10% of peak bone mass not achieved, osteoporosis will occur up to 13 years earlier.

ONZ Objectives

Osteoporosis New Zealand (ONZ) is keen to change this by developing evidence-based, easily understood information on Bone health.

Through education and empowerment, people can become proactive in the management of their own bone health by understanding how to delay the condition, the impact nutrition and exercise can play, that fractures are important, identification and treatment of osteoporosis are available, and that healthy living can help improve bones.

We are excited to be embarking on this work but to do so we need your help.

ONZ is a not-for-profit, charitable trust. We do not receive government funding so rely on the generosity of New Zealanders to support our work.

A donation to Osteoporosis New Zealand can help us to continue the important work we do to increase awareness and prevent the pain and suffering caused by osteoporosis.

Please help us by donating at

If you are a corporate that would like to partner with us, we would love to hear from you. Please email

Legal Disclaimer: The above article, supplied by Osteoporosis New Zealand, should not be taken as professional medical advice. If you have questions or concerns, please speak with your GP about an Osteoporosis assessment. A simple test now could prevent future pain and suffering. If you are above 50 of age, and have broken a bone as a result of a minor fall or bump, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about osteoporosis and a bone health assessment.

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