World Osteoporosis Day which is being celebrated on October 20th of every year since 1997, is actually a year long campaign to create awareness about the disease. It is important, as the need of the hour for people to understand the immense burden caused by osteoporosis and the ways to overcome it.

Osteoporosis is a medical condition which leads to reduced bone mass with micro architectural deterioration and hence increasing the risk of fracture. So such fractures which occur due to trivial trauma (eg: falling from a walking height) are called fragility fractures. The sites more prone are spine, femur andradius. Osteoporosis  is usually known as the "silent killer" as it doesn’t show any prior symptoms and the person comes to know about it only after he sustains a fracture.

We have so many diseases in our country so why is this so important? The current population of India is around 1.2 billion. By 2020, there will be around 76 million people with their age greater than 65 years, which is quite a significant number.Worldwide it seems every 3 seconds one sustains an osteoporotic fracture. Approximately one in three women and one in five men aged over 50 years will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their remaining lifetime. A prior fracture is associated with a 86% increased risk of any fracture. More than 50% of hip fractures in the world will occur in Asia by 2050 and the mortality rate is around 20-24% in the first year. Aren’t these statistics quite alarming?

The most sad part is  that we all have accepted this as a natural process of ageing. Whatever be our age, we shouldn’t break our bones with a trivial fall. If we do, then our bones are weak and it is not normal. It can be detected early and a fracture can be prevented with adequate treatment.

It’s widely known that osteoporosis usually affects the older people. But it’s actually a disease of the young with consequences in the older age. We usually attain the peak bone mass at 20 – 30 years of age, after which there is a gradual decline in the bone mass. So in the earlier stages of life, with the help of a good diet and healthy lifestyle one can attain the maximum bone mass. If they do so, the chances of them having a low bone mass  later in life will be less.

Similarly it’s usually thought as a disease of postmenopausal women. Yes of course the women are at a higher risk but men are no safer and are at a greater risk of getting a prostate cancer. Actually the mortality and morbidity post fracture is more in men. ‘Usually women maintain their health whereas men just go for repairs’. This attitude should change among men and they should also screen for osteoporosis rather than getting medical attention after a fracture. There are a lot of secondary causes for osteoporosis like drugs, various rheumatological,endocrine diseases etc. which have to be thought of particularly in males and those with fragility fractures at a younger age.

So it’s high time everybody becomes aware about this disease and its consequences. It can be screened effectively by DEXA scan. After detecting osteoporosis it can be effectively managed with the likes of Calcium, Vitamin D, Bisphosphonates,Parathormone analogues, Monoclonal antibodies etc. As we all know ‘prevention is better than cure’, one should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by regular exercises, requisite sun exposure, adequate dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D. So let’s promote the caption ‘Love your bones’ i.e. the global symbol of bone health.