The thinning of the bones does not, in itself, cause much in the way of symptoms. It does, however lead to a risk of broken bones without much of an injury. When the bones are significantly thinned, people who fall are more likely to break their wrist, hip or other bones. A cough or a sneeze is more likely to cause a fracture of a rib or the partial collapse of one of the bones in the spine.


There are a number of types of primary osteoporosis:
Type I - Postmenopausal, seems to be caused by a deficiency in the female hormone Oestrogen.
Type II - age-related osteoporosis.

Idiopathic (no specific cause identified) - This affects younger people, i.e. less than 50 years old.

There is also secondary osteoporosis which can be connected to:

  • Overactive thyroid, underproduction of the sex hormones or excessive natural production of steroids.
  • Digestive problems, leading to poor absorption of the nutrients in the food we eat.
  • Arthritis and joint disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Steroids.

If you fall into one or more of the risk factor groups listed below, you may be at greater risk of developing osteoporosis:

  • Being female,
  • Older age group,
  • Menopause before the age of 45,
  • Low sex hormone levels,
  • Smoking,
  • High alcohol intake,
  • Physical inactivity,
  • Thin people.

The doctor will probably confirm a diagnosis with a series of x-rays. There are then a number of treatments available.


Women who are at the menopause or experience it early can be given hormone replacement therapy (HRT). You would need to weigh up the relative benefits and side-effects in your instance with your doctor.


There are also different types of tablets and injections which encourage the laying down of calcium in the bones. Your doctor may also supply you with a calcium supplement and pain relieving tablets.


Our Advice

  • Have regular weight-bearing exercise.
  • Ensure a healthy intake of dietary calcium.
  • If you are around menopausal age discuss HRT with your doctor.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Cut down your alcohol intake.
  • If you are over 55 and female and had your menopause before the age of 45 it is worthwhile asking your doctor about osteoporosis.
  • Our pharmacists can advise you on dietary supplements and pain relievers for osteoporosis and also provide information on any information you have been prescribed by your doctor.

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