Osteoporosis Risk Factor Awareness: Loss of Height

Have you noticed that either you or someone you know seems to be getting shorter? It’s just not just your eyesight! Although loss of height commonly occurs with ageing, a significant loss of height may also be an indicator of osteoporosis. While it may not be obvious at first, any loss greater than 3cm should be discussed with your doctor.

Loss of height is one of the early signs of osteoporosis and is caused by a curvature or compression of the spine. The spine is made up of vertebrae and fractures can cause it to curve forward and look like you are stopped or hunched which is called kyphosis or commonly referred to as a dowager’s hump. The vertebrae in the spine are slowly collapsing and if untreated can result in fractures within a couple of years, which is known as the ‘domino effect’.

For many people this stoop can cause constant pain as the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the back are being stretched and strained. Some people though experience no pain at all until there is a further fracture in the vertebrae. This is why it is important if you have noticed a curve in the spine to take extra precaution and talk with a medical professional. A loss of height and curved spine can also contribute to a higher risk of tripping or falling due a change in the centre of gravity with the head being in a forward position.

If you have concerns about a sudden or gradual loss of height in yourself or someone you know please have a chat with your GP about getting a bone density scan. For further information on osteoporosis head to our website or call 1800 242 141.

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