Unfortunately there are very few physical warning signs for osteoporosis until the disease has established itself. Broken bones or fractures after a minor bump or fall may mean you already have osteoporosis, and this is often the first sign of the disease.
Due to the lack of warning signs, the risk factors section provides a useful point of call for information to assess your risk. The greater number of risk factor categories that apply to you, the greater the warning. If, from this section, you feel that you may be at high risk, you should consult your doctor.
Taking preventive measures as early as possible is important due to the fact that there are no forewarning symptoms.
Fractures and resulting symptoms
The excessive loss of density and the weakening of bones causes a high risk of fractures occurring in osteoporosis sufferers.
As people generally living longer, the incidence of fractures is also increasing. By the age of 80, 50% women will have sustained at least one fracture due to osteoporosis.
There are two different types of fracture that occur, signalling that you may already have osteoporosis:
Fractures that occur as a result from a fall, that would not have occurred previously. The most common sites for osteoporotic fractures are just above the wrist and top of thigh bone. Other areas include the spine, hip, pelvis and upper arm.
A spontaneous fracture of one of several vertebrae, which results in the crumbling of bone and the formation of wedge shaped fractures.
This results in:
- Progressive loss of height
- Pain due to the compression of the spinal nerve (not everyone experiences pain)
- Curvature of the spine (kyphosis), resulting in 'dowager's hump' or rounded back, which may be accompanied by a protruding abdomen.
- Digestive and breathing problems can occur due to the severe curvature of the spine which starts to reduce the space under the rib cage.
- Incontinence can also occur as the internal organs become pressed on the bladder.