World Osteoporosis Day: Significance, History and all you need to know

World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) is observed every year on 20th October across the world dedicated to create global awareness for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis.

Organized by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), the World Osteoporosis Day campaign is accompanied by community events and local campaigns by national osteoporosis patient societies from around the world with activities in over 90 countries.

WOD aims to make osteoporosis and fracture prevention a global health priority by reaching out to health professionals, policy makers and public at large.

World Osteoporosis Day was launched on October 20, 1996 by the United Kingdom’s National Osteoporosis Society and supported by the European Commission.

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.

Key messages:

  • 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.
  • 33% of hip fracture patients are totally dependent.
  • One fracture greatly increases the risk of further fractures.

Common risk factors for osteoporosis and fragility fractures include:

  • 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

How to know if you are suffering from Osteoporosis?

The person with following symptoms is likely to suffer from 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 your 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
  • If you are at high risk, you may need medication
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