The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is a non profit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to the worldwide fight against osteoporosis, the disease known as 'the silent epidemic'. IOF's members - committees of scientific researchers, patient, medical and research societies and industry representatives from around the world - share a common vision of a world without osteoporotic fractures. One of IOF's main missions is to motivate people to take action towards better bone health, and to prevent, diagnose and treat osteoporosis and related fractures. IOF now represents 196 medical and patient societies in 92 locations around the world.
Osteoporosis, which means 'porous bone', is a disease characterized by low bone mass and poor bone quality. As the bones become progressively more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. Often people are unaware that they have osteoporosis, as there may be no symptoms until the first fracture occurs. Around the world, one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture. Fractures caused by osteoporosis in women over 45 years are responsible for more days spent in hospital than most other diseases, including breast cancer or heart attack. Osteoporotic fractures result in significantly increased mortality with 20-25% of people suffering a hip fracture, dying within 12 months following the fracture.
The good news is that osteoporosis is easily diagnosed and with a combination of lifestyle changes and appropriate medical management the risk of fractures can be significantly reduced.
about vertebral fractures
Spinal, or vertebral, fractures are the most common type of fragility fracture. It is estimated that one new spinal fracture occurs every 22 seconds worldwide.
Although common, these fractures remain largely under-diagnosed. It is estimated that two-thirds of all spinal osteoporotic fractures do not come to clinical attention and remain untreated. Although spinal fractures cause disability and pain, these signs are often ignored or misdiagnosed as simple back pain, leaving individuals vulnerable to an impending 'fracture cascade'.
Undiagnosed spinal fractures result in serious human, social and economic consequences. People who have suffered a spinal fracture are four times as likely to experience a new fracture within the next 12 months. This 'fracture cascade' can lead to severe spinal deformity, back pain, loss of height and 'stoop', immobility, increased number of bed days, reduced pulmonary and gastrointestinal function and higher risk of death. The impact on quality of life for patients and their families can be profound. A life of chronic pain and reduced mobility can lead to loss of independence, social restrictions and isolation, as well as depression and loss of self esteem.
Yet there is considerable hope for people living with spinal osteoporosis. With early diagnosis and treatment the 'fracture cascade' can be prevented, and with proper management a positive quality of life can be maintained.