1.2 million Australians are affected by osteoporosis, which means that their bones are fragile and at risk of fracture.
A further 5.4 million people have low bone density (osteopenia), a possible precursor to osteoporosis.
However, as many as 4 out of 5 people with osteoporosis don’t know that they have it and therefore don’t know that they are at risk of fracturing a bone. This is because osteoporosis is a ‘silent’ disease without obvious symptoms. It can progress without people being aware that they have the disease until they break a bone. It is therefore important that osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Sometimes osteoporosis is not diagnosed, even after a fracture has occurred. This is because the underlying cause of the fracture has not been properly investigated.
After the first fracture, there is a 2-4 times greater risk of another fracture occurring within 12 months. This risk rises rapidly with each fracture, and is known as the ‘cascade effect.’ Unfortunately, most Australians do NOT receive the investigations and treatment necessary to prevent fractures, either before or after the first fracture occurs.