By Dr Joshua Jones

Osteoporosis is very serious.

You could even consider osteoporosis as a silent killer.

The loss of activity and reduction in your quality of life that occurs after a major fracture such as a broken hip is often the first major event in a road that all too often leads to death for many older Australians.

Osteoporosis affects over 1.2 million Australians.

A further 6.3 million have low bone density which has not (yet) reached the threshold for osteoporosis, and the proportion of people affected is rising.

Osteoporosis is very serious, yet it is so often forgotten about during a busy medical consultation. While there may be talking about blood pressures, cholesterol levels and other diseases which are more in the spotlight, when was the last time you discussed your risk of osteoporosis with your doctor?

Osteoporosis and Bone Density Scanning

The most reliable way to detect osteoporosis is by screening with a bone density scan which is also known as a ‘Dexa’ scan (Dual Energy Xray Absorptiometry) which is basically a fancy x-ray to tell us how strong or ‘dense’ your bones are.

If you belong to any of the following groups, you may be eligible for a Medicare-funded Dexa scan:

  • If you have had a ‘minimal trauma fracture’ at any age, or
  • If you are over the age of 70.

You may also be eligible if you are over 50 and:

  • went through early menopause
  • have been diagnosed with hypogonadism
  • have been on steroids (prednisolone or similar) for 3 months or more (eg for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disease)
  • have coeliac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, some thyroid disorders, chronic kidney or liver disease, or
  • have been or are on ‘hormone therapy’ for prostate cancer.

A bone density scan is also recommended for the following people and can be arranged privately. Speak with one of our doctors to learn more about what this might cost.

People over 50 who:

  • have a family history of osteoporosis
  • have had multiple falls
  • have had breast cancer and been on aromatase inhibitors
  • are on anti-epileptic medications
  • have a low body weight
  • have HIV and are on treatment
  • have been on SSRI (antidepressants)
  • have diabetes (both type 1 and type 2)
  • have multiple myeloma, or
  • have had an organ or bone marrow transplant.

What happens if I am diagnosed with osteoporosis?

If you are found to have osteoporosis your doctor is likely to recommend medication to strengthen your bones and help reduce your risk of fracture. Another very important measure is to ensure you are doing adequate weight bearing exercise.

Did you know your bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt by your body?


What can I do to reduce the effects of osteoporosis?

There are two groups of worker cells in your body (called osteoblasts and osteoclasts) who act like demolition crew and building crews who will break down bone and build up new bone in accordance with the activity you are doing.

If you don’t do any activity it leads to weaker bones. A very physically active person doing a variety of exercises will generally have much stronger bones. Weight training (even light weights), running or brisk walking, tennis and hill walking are a few examples of great bone building exercises. Cycling and swimming is considered to be less beneficial (although great for your overall health).

Other things you should do to reduce the risk of osteoporosis

  1. Ensure you are getting enough calcium in your diet (usually between 1000-1300mg/day).

    Did you know firm tofu is one of the foods highest in calcium?Have a look at the following table to get an idea of the calcium quantity in common foods.If you feel you’re not getting enough calcium, consider a calcium supplement, but it is preferable to be able to get enough nutrients from your diet without supplements where possible.
  2. Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D.

    This usually requires getting a few minutes of sun per day in summer and 2-3 hours per week (approx. 30 mins per day) in winter in Melbourne.If you are not getting enough exposure, consider a vitamin D supplement.

To learn more about osteoporosis and have a personalised risk assessment, book an appointment with one of our doctors.

Call Us Now

In the meantime, do what you can to prevent osteoporosis, get your calcium intake up, get outside for some sun and exercise and let’s get those bones as strong as they can be!

DISCLAIMER – Not Medical or Personal Advice:
The information in our blog, videos, presentations, and all other digital materials (together ‘Content’) is for general information and nothing contained in it is intended to be construed as individual or personal advice. The Content does not take into account your individual health, medical, physical fitness or emotional condition or needs. The Content is not a substitute for medical attention, treatment, examination, advice or diagnosis and is not intended to provide a clinical diagnosis nor take the place of proper medical advice from a fully qualified medical practitioner. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal situation and needs. You are responsible for consulting a suitable medical professional before using any of the information or materials contained in our Content, before trying any treatment or taking any course of action that may directly or indirectly affect your health or well-being. You take full responsibility and risk for making any decision based on our Content or information on this website. You hereby agree to irrevocably release and waive any claims you may have now or in the future against us and we take no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any loss, damage or injury that may arise from any person acting on any of our Content or information contained on this website and all such liabilities are expressly disclaimed. 
This Content is the copyright of J&J Jones Medical Pty Ltd trading as Albert Road General Practice © 2020. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the Content in any form is prohibited. You may not share, copy or redistribute this Content in any medium or format at any time. Our Content is for your individual personal use only and may not be used for commercial purposes. You are not permitted to make any derivative material, including but not limited to copying, reproducing, transforming, sharing or building upon the Content in whole or any part thereof. For any other use or distribution, you must have express written consent from Albert Road General Practice.