4364.0.55.002 - Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, Australia, 2014-15  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/03/2017   
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Osteoporosis is a condition of the musculoskeletal system in which a person's bones become fragile and brittle, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability, loss of independence or even death.1

Much like arthritis, early prevention, diagnosis, prompt treatment and ongoing management can lessen the effects of osteoporosis. Musculoskeletal conditions can be managed by medications aimed at reducing pain, increasing mobility and slowing the progression of inflammation or the loss of bone mass. Physiotherapy and exercise are important in treating musculoskeletal conditions and can effectively reduce pain and loss of independence caused by osteoporosis.

In 2014-15, 3.5% of Australians (801,800) reported having osteoporosis.

Of all people with osteoporosis, 51.8% had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition, 14.4% had consulted a specialist and 15.5% had consulted an other health professional.

Bone density testing is important for people with osteoporosis or those at risk of getting osteoporosis. A bone density test uses X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other bone minerals in a segment of bone. This helps determine what level of risk a person is at of breaking bones. In 2014-15, 82.7% people with osteoporosis had had their bone density tested at some stage, an increase from 73.7% in 2007-08. In 2014-15, around half (53.5%) of all people with osteoporosis had had their bone density tested within the last two years.

Excluding the use of medications, the most common actions people took in the last 2 weeks for their osteoporosis were exercising most days (25.8%) as well as weight, strength or resistance training (18.0%). The proportion of people with osteoporosis who had done weight, strength or resistance training in the last two weeks had increased from 10.4% in 2011-12.

Graph Image for Persons with osteoporosis - Actions taken for osteoporosis in last 2 weeks, 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2014-15

The most common medications taken in the last 2 weeks by persons with osteoporosis were analgesics (32.7%), antidepressants (16.7%), 'anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic products, non-steroids' (7.8%), bisphosphonates (7.3%) and 'Corticosteroids for systemic use' (6.8%).

1. Osteoporosis Australia, Feb 2013, What is osteoporosis?, <http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/what-it/>, Last accessed 02/02/2017.