Don’t Bend to Osteoporosis is the clarion call of the National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa (NOFSA), which says that an estimated 50% of all spinal fractures are unnoticed by the medical profession and therefore remain untreated.
This year NOFSA, together with the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), is urging South Africans to recognise the importance of bone health during World Osteoporosis Day 2010 (WOD), 20 October 2010. “Under-diagnosis of spinal fractures is a worldwide problem that has serious repercussions,” said Tereza Hough, CEO of NOFSA. “Despite many spinal fractures, causing severe pain and possible disability, these are often ignored or misdiagnosed as simple back pain.”
Three major signs of vertebral fractures are height loss, back pain, and a stoop. Identifying and treating patients at risk of fractures before they occur will substantially decrease the long term debilitating effects of this sort of injury. Reducing the risk of first fracture from 8% to 2% can reduce the global 5-year fracture incidence from approximately 34% to 10%.
"We hope that through this campaign, greater awareness around the prevention of Osteoporosis is created. This will help us advocate and create the change within the health sector to ensure that focus is placed on averting this crippling condition, rather than treating it,” said Hough.
Changing the perception
Osteoporosis, often known as the “silent epidemic”, is a systemic disease causing bones to become porous and more susceptible to fractures, especially in the spine, hips and wrists.
This translates into a potential four to six million South Africans who are at risk of developing the disease, placing a financial and emotional burden on medical resources and the families and carers who become responsible for these patients.
“Osteoporosis is not an illness just for old ladies, as we now know conclusively that osteoporosis can also affect young individuals and both genders,” Hough said. The current global statistic is that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have the potential to develop the disease.
NOFSA has urged the public and the corporate sector to join them in actively lobbying policy makers and health authorities to increase accessibility to diagnosis and treatment in order to reduce the impact of osteoporotic fractures – now and in the future.
(Issued on behalf of NOFSA, 2010)
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