Osteoporosis, also known as the ‘brittle bone disease’ is progressive condition where bones lose their density, get thinner and therefore become more fragile. This means that sufferers are more susceptible to fragility fractures (breaks occurring at low-level trauma). It is estimated that around 3 millions people in the UK are osteoporotic. Osteopenia is the pre-curser to osteoporosis.

A ‘DEXA’ bone scan is the best way to measure bone density, and this can be arranged via your GP.

Risk factors

  • Gender: Women are most at risk, particularly post menopoause, as their oestrogen production stops (which helps keen bones strong)
  • Age: After the age of 35 our bone turnover and repair system slows down. This means that the structure of the bone starts to slowly change and the bones start to thin and become less solid. Around half of the over 75 age group will have osteopenia or osteoporosis on DEXA scanning
  • Genetic predisposition: if osteoporosis runs in your family, you are more likely to suffer as well
  • Low BMI/ anorexia
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Lack of weight bearing/ joint loading exercise
  • Certain medicines: Such as prostate/breast cancer treatment, steroids, epilepsy drugs, SSRI’s, PPI’s.
  • Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohns, hyperthyroidism, parathyroidism.


Treatment options

  • Diet: The first thing to do is to ensure that your diet and lifestyle is supplying you with the correct amount of calcium and vitamin D that you need. (Click on the website links below for dietary advice). This will help to maintain bone health.
  • Calcium and vitamin D: If you levels are low, taking a supplement may be advised. (There has however been some recent concern with high levels of calcium supplementation increasing cardiovascular disease, so speak with your GP if concerned)
  • Bisphosphonates: Such as Alendronic acid, taken once weekly. These drugs inhibit bone reabsorbtion. These are usually taken for set a period of months or years, as advised by your GP. These can sometimes also be administered by drip in hospital.
  • Selective oestrogen modulators
  • Parathyroid hormone treatment
  • HRT is no longer the 1st treatment of choice due to the suggested link with a small increased risk of cancer, DVT and CV disease or stroke.
  • Stop smoking
  • Decrease alcohol intake
  • Load bearing exercise; What we as physios are great at advising on! There is lots of good research to show that loading your joints and engaging your muscles helps to promote new bone formation and keeps your bones strong. This may include light impact exercise such as jogging and lifting weights, using resistance machines or bands.


If you suffer from osteoporosis or want more advice on managing your condition, please get in touch with us at Kensington Physio. Contact: 0207 6030040 or email us at:  info@kenphysio.com.

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