Context: World Osteoporosis Day is observed on October 20th each year. The day is dedicated to raising awareness of osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal diseases. A 2019 study revealed that India was the highest contributor to osteoporosis fracture-related deaths/disabilities worldwide.
- Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone”. It is a bone disease that causes a loss of bone density and leads to the weakening of bones.
- Bone is a living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced.
- When viewed under a microscope a healthy bone looks like a honeycomb.
- When osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much larger than in healthy bone.
- Osteoporotic bones lose density or mass and contain abnormal tissue structures.
- Impact: For people with osteoporosis bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone. Bones become porous (less dense), brittle and the fracture can occur with a minor fall, bump or sudden movement. It also causes changes in posture and the person stoops.
- Occurrence: The prevalence of osteoporosis occurs more with ageing. The prevalence of osteoporosis in elderly females is slightly higher than in males as Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause.
- Projected data shows that at least 46 million women in India currently live with post-menopausal osteoporosis.
- Diagnosis: Bone mineral density scan (DEXA) helps healthcare providers detect osteoporosis by measuring how much Calcium and other minerals are present in an area of a bone.
- Prevention: Nutritional intake of adequate Calcium, Protein, and Vitamin D and regular exercise.
- High prevalence: Owing to the large elderly population and prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies, particularly in women, and the lack of physical exercise, there is a high index of suspicion/occurrence of osteoporosis in India.
- Knowledge Gap: There are no large-scale studies on osteoporosis in India and enormous gaps in knowledge about osteoporosis, even among doctors.
- Infrastructural Gap: Most of the Indian population does not have access to DEXA or bone mineral density scan. A study found that in India, there are only 0.26 DEXA machines per million of the population.
- To bridge the osteoporosis care gap in India there is a need to promote awareness and empower healthcare providers with context-specific knowledge and resources to diagnose, treat, and prevent this debilitating condition.