Every 5-6 minutes someone is admitted to an Australian hospital with an osteoporotic fracture. Osteoporosis is a chronic condition associated with ageing. It results in a decrease in the amount of bone in the skeleton and a deterioration of bone structure. The bones become fragile and brittle. This weakening increases a person’s chances of a fracture. In Australia around 60% of women and 30% of men over the age of 60 years will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their remaining lifetime. It is predicted that by the year 2025, these fractures will more than double, and hip fractures alone will exceed 32,000 per annum. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further loss of bone mass, and can also help to improve bone density.
Osteoporosis is under recognised and under treated. The deterioration of bone can proceed with no outward symptoms until a symptomatic fracture occurs. Osteoporotic fractures are more likely to occur with decreased bone strength and an increased rate of falls. Around 50% of people with a fracture due to osteoporosis will sustain another fracture. Recent research indicates that only 7-20% of people who have sustained an osteoporotic fracture receive treatment for osteoporosis to prevent further fractures.
This program outlines the identification, diagnosis, treatment and management of osteoporosis in line with the Clinical Guideline. It highlights the major risk factors for osteoporosis and the appropriate investigations. The assessment and interventions for osteoporosis after a fracture are also discussed.
The program is one of four in the Musculoskeletal Guideline Series. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed national musculoskeletal clinical guidelines for general practitioners and other primary care health professionals for osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and non surgical treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis.
The July 2010 issue of Australian Rural Doctor features a “How to Treat” section which is based on this program.
Produced by the Rural Health Education Foundation