World Osteoporosis Day was launched on 20 October 20 1996 by the United Kingdom’s Royal Osteoporosis Society and supported by the European Commission. Since 1997, the awareness day has been organised by the International Osteoporosis Foundation. In 1998 and 1999, the World Health Organization acted as co-sponsor of World Osteoporosis Day. The day is dedicated to raising global awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease.

Osteoporosis is characterized by deterioration of bone tissue. The bones become brittle and weak which further increases the risk of fractures especially in the spine, hip and wrist. Women are at greater risk of osteoporosis than men especially after the age of 50. Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and fragile, so that they break easily – even as a result of a minor fall, a bump, a sneeze, or a sudden movement. Fractures caused by osteoporosis can be life-threatening and a major cause of pain and long-term disability.

Osteoporosis is a systematic disease which makes bones so porous or weak that even mild stress causes a fracture. It is called an osteoporotic fracture. Ageing, hormonal changes after menopause, calcium and vitamin D deficiency are some causes. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption in our body. Sunshine is one of the major sources but considering dense concrete structures in cities, people do not required sunshine exposure. A study confirms that around seventy to ninety per cent of Indians are sunshine vitamin-deficient which may add to the increased rate of osteoporosis. People should get their vitamin D levels tested and follow concerned doctor’s instructions; Government should also come up with broader planning for the management of ensuring proper vitamin D intake by every person, stress experts.

COVID-19 pandemic brought the life to a standstill. The crisis introduced a new norm into our lifestyle, which exposed our health to an unwarranted risk. In general, lack of physical activity and unhealthy food patterns are considered to be associated with increased body fat and cholesterol, but is equally harmful to our bones.  Thus amid the ongoing pandemic, a major lifestyle change is very much needed.

Bone health, being an integral part of overall well-being, has become a cause of concern, lately. While at home, during the pandemic times, a major section of the society is living a sedentary lifestyle, putting their bone health at risk. In addition, keeping oneself indoors, away from the sunshine, has led the depletion of vitamin D levels.

Points to remember:

  • Osteoporosis is a global health problem, and because of this, worldwide, fractures affect one in three women and one in five men over the age 50
  • When osteoporosis affects the bones of the spine, it often leads to pain, height-loss and a stooped or hunched posture
  • Thirty three percent of hip fracture patients are totally dependent
  • One fracture greatly increases the risk of further fractures

Common risk factors for osteoporosis and fragility fractures:

  • A broken bone after the age of 50
  • Height loss of 4 cm or more, stooped back
  • Early menopause
  • Being underweight (body mass index below 19)
  • Medical conditions associated with osteoporosis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, breast or prostate cancer, or certain digestive diseases
  • Medications associated with osteoporosis, such as longer-term daily use of glucocorticoids (steroids)
  • Parental history of hip fracture or osteoporosis
  • Sedentary lifestyle (little physical activity)
  • Smoking and/or excessive drinking

Early indicators of osteoporosis:

  • Low backache or neck pain
  • Loss of height over time
  • Stooped/bent posture
  • Fracture of hip or spine or bones of wrist usually result from fall
  • A bone health assessment and bone mineral density determination

Tips to keep bones healthy:

  • Take a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D such as milk, yogurt, green leafy vegetables
  • Safe exposure to sunlight
  • Exercise regularly to prevent bone loss; weight–bearing, muscle-strengthening and balance-training exercises are good
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Engage yourself in stress relief activities such as yoga, meditation
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Factsheets and Further Reading

If you are at high risk, you may need medication


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