Life Wellbeing Breaking through: A new online tool can determine your risk of osteoporosis

Breaking through: A new online tool can determine your risk of osteoporosis

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A new online self-assessment tool will tell you how likely you are to develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Australia has developed the Know Your Bones online survey to help Australians assess their risk of bone breaks and developing osteoporosis.

Professor Peter Ebeling, head of Monash Health’s department of medicine in the school of clinical sciences, said Know Your Bones was designed to help identify those at high risk of osteoporosis early on.

“We thought there was a need for patients to take control of their bone health,” Professor Ebeling told The New Daily.  

“For some GPs, osteoporosis falls off the list because they’re busy managing other chronic conditions.”

Men and women are 200-300 per cent more likely to break a bone if they have already broken one due to osteoporosis. Photo: Getty 

The online survey is easy to use and only takes a few minutes to complete.

Users are provided with a simple, clear summary of their risk of developing osteoporosis that they can then take to their doctor if required.

Celebrity personal trainer and author, Michelle Bridges, said taking early action by understanding your bone health can help prevent fractures and breaks.

“A bone is broken every 3.2 minutes in Australia,” Bridges said.

“Taking action to understand your risk factors for poor bone health can help prevent many unwanted fractures.

“If you find you have risk factors for poor bone health, then talk to your doctor.”

Misconceptions about osteoporosis

Despite 1.2 million Australians currently living with osteoporosis, and a more than six million living with low bone density, there are many misconceptions about the condition.

“Osteoporosis is often confused with osteoarthritis, which affects the joints,” Professor Ebeling said.

And while the condition is most prevalent in older, post-menopausal women, it doesn’t discriminate.

“One-third of broken bones due to osteoporosis occur in men, and they can occur in younger people as well,” he said.

More than six million Australians suffer from poor bone health. Photo: Getty 

The other large misconception is that consuming higher quantities of dairy can act as an effective method of prevention.

Calcium intake is somewhat important, but Professor Ebeling said that weight-bearing exercise at any age is one of the best ways to restore bone density.

But unfortunately that doesn’t include your daily isolation-approved walk around the block.

“It’s never too late to build up bone density with exercise,” he said.

“Playing tennis, dancing, stair-climbing, skipping or hopping are good for your bones – but not walking, cycling or swimming because they’re not weight bearing.”

If left undiagnosed, osteoporosis can severely affect a person’s lifestyle and mobility, so assessing bone health early is critical to management and treatment.

“What we want to avoid is people getting to their 70s or 80s, and then having a hip fracture and the vast majority of them can no longer live independently at home, and they might end up in a hostel or a nursing home or they might even die.

“We can actually treat it. It’s never too late to treat osteoporosis. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

“The medications we have can reverse it and increase bone density. Some of them can even form new bone,” Professor Ebeling said.