What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder. Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. Osteoporosis is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis, because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disease; osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue.
Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
At least one in three women and one in five men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime.
The overall yearly cost to the Canadian healthcare system of treating osteoporosis and the fractures it causes was over $2.3 billion as of 2010. This cost includes acute care costs, outpatient care, prescription drugs and indirect costs. This cost rises to $3.9 billion if a proportion of Canadians were assumed to be living in long-term care facilities because of osteoporosis. (The burden of illness of osteoporosis in Canada, Tarride et al, Osteoporosis International March 2012)
The reduced quality of life for those with osteoporosis is enormous. Osteoporosis can result in disfigurement, lowered self-esteem, reduction or loss of mobility, and decreased independence.
The statistics related to hip fractures are particularly disturbing. There were approximately 25,000 hip fractures in Canada in 1993. Twenty-eight per cent of women and 37% of men who suffer a hip fracture will die within the following year. Over 80% of all fractures in people 50+ are caused by osteoporosis.