Living with osteoporosis
Getting through each day
Recent research among women with osteoporosis shows that it affects virtually every aspect of daily life:
- 77% said osteoporosis had an impact on their life
- 43% said it had an impact on day-to-day tasks, such as housework and gardening
- 36% said their quality of life was adversely affected
- 65% said they suffer pain to some degree
In some cases, the pain associated with a fragility fracture can be excruciating. One patient who had fractured her spine was in such agony that she was convinced that she had bone cancer and was actually ‘relieved’ to be diagnosed with osteoporosis:
“I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t turn in bed”
Another patient gave a graphic description of the pain she suffers:
“It is like a knife going in and turning slowly, a drawing pain”
Pain and discomfort can lead to poor sleep resulting in fatigue and irritability. Some women resort to sleeping in a separate room to avoid disturbing their partner. Sexual activity can become painful, which can have an impact on intimacy and relationships. Osteoporosis tends to affect older women and once it develops it is permanent. Many of those affected are widowed or living alone and 50% fear becoming dependent on others.
Psychological impact on sufferers
Osteoporosis can have a psychological as well as a physical impact:
- 42% of women with osteoporosis experience depression
- 58% a reduced sense of well-being
- 41% a reduced quality of life
- 39% of women feel that osteoporosis has negatively affected their outlook on life
“You feel like a prisoner within your own body and it is so unfair”
Some women struggle to cope with changes in their appearance (loss of height, curved spine) and the need to alter the way they dress to accommodate their new shape.
“Do you know what is so depressing? It’s shopping for clothes. Have you ever tried to get a bra to fit? I went three weeks once without wearing a bra because it was so uncomfortable”
The Breaking Point Report provided a snapshot of the current situation for women with osteoporosis in the UK.
Breaking Point described the practical steps that must be taken by healthcare professionals, policy makers and commissioners, as well as the public to prevent avoidable suffering and cost of osteoporotic fractures.