Low trauma fracture
With age and reduced Oestrogen levels, particularly when the menopause occurs before the age of 45, there is an increased risk of progressive loss of bone strength leading to bone thinning and fragility (osteoporosis). Although bone loss occurs in both women and men, the loss occurs more rapidly and is more common in women, mainly due to menopause. Bone thinning itself does not cause any symptoms with osteoporosis being known as the “silent disease”. The first warning sign can be a fracture after a simple fall or bump. It is estimated that by the age of 70 that one third to one half of women will have had an osteoporosis related fracture.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Breaking a bone after a simple fall or bump
- Premature (before age 40) or early (before age 45) menopause
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Maternal history of hip fracture
- Long term (more than 3 months) or high dose use of steroids
- Excess alcohol intake
- Poor dietary intake of calcium
- Lack of weight bearing exercise
General factors which can therefore help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis include:
- Stopping smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake (keeping below 14 units per week)
- Avoiding excess caffeine by limiting tea / coffee / fizzy drinks
- Taking regular weight bearing exercise, such as walking
- Having a healthy, varied, well balanced diet which is rich in calcium, e.g. from dairy products, green leafy vegetables and oily fish.
- HRT can help to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of fracture, and is particularly useful for prevention of osteoporosis in women who have had an early menopause and for those women with menopausal symptoms.