Make your first fracture your last

Over 50? Broken a bone? Osteoporosis New Zealand want Kiwis to prevent life-threatening future fractures by getting to know their bones a little better.

Our skeleton isn’t something we tend to think about and most of us take it for granted.
However, if you want to remain independent and live a full and active life well into old age then one thing you must consider is your bone health.

Bones are a dynamic tissue that is constantly being remodelled. In fact, the whole human skeleton replaces itself, regardless of whether you’re 2 or 92, approximately every 8-10 years.

Fortunately, this means it’s never too late (or too early) to think about bone health.

The human skeleton achieves peak bone density in our mid-twenties and then it deteriorates from middle age onwards, increasing the risk of bone fractures (breaks and/or cracks) exponentially. In fact, one in three women and one in five men will suffer from a fragility fracture due to poor bone health in their lifetime.

A broken bone (fracture) is all too often not considered an indicator of something more serious.

Instead, when most people hear the words ‘broken bone’ they think ‘what a nuisance’. Some initial pain, an awkward few weeks in plaster, and having to shower with a plastic bag. Not many people think ‘life-threatening’.

But if you have broken a bone following a simple trip or fall since you turned 50, did you know you are twice as likely to break another bone in the future?

This means that you’re at a greater risk of hip fracture, the worst fragility fracture of all. Every year almost 4,000 Kiwis suffer from a broken hip – that’s around 11 people each day – someone’s mum, dad, nana, grandpa, brother or sister. Sadly 50 percent of people who have a hip fracture will never return to full mobility again and tragically 25 percent of them will die prematurely.

Hip fractures can be painful, debilitating, and as mentioned above, potentially lifethreatening – but they’re often avoidable. Many of us have lost loved ones following a hip fracture, and almost everyone knows someone who’s been through this painful, debilitating experience.

But the good news is that you can improve your bone health no matter what age you are.

Changes to your lifestyle now could make a difference, helping you continue to live the life you want and avoid fractures due to poor bone health. Otherwise early diagnosis, a bonehealthy lifestyle and medication can allow people to remain fracture free.

Other factors can affect your bone health such as being underweight, smoking, exclusion diets and even the use of certain medications such as prednisone, or chemotherapy and/or radiation for breast cancer, or certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis. You can find out more about risk factors by visiting bones.org.nz, and having a look at the Fact Sheets and FAQs available on the website.

If you want to understand your current bone health and your risk of a future fracture, take a few minutes to complete the Know Your BonesTM questionnaire, print it out and take with you to your next GP appointment to discuss the findings in your personalised report.

More articles