Jill’s story: managing poor bone density

A routine bone scan delivered Jill news that she certainly wasn’t expecting.


Happily married mother-to-two adult daughters and grandmother-to-two, Jill, 62, Yinnar South, Victoria, broke her toe in 2012 when stepping out of a bath.

Jill, who has no known family history of osteoporosis, continued to soldier on, paying little attention to her fracture up until December 2015 when a routine bone density scan revealed her bones were equivalent to that of a 75-to-79 year old.

Armed with this perturbing information, Jill returned home to conduct further research on the topic. Her growing anxiety about fracturing another bone saw her promptly return to her doctor, who subsequently diagnosed her with osteoporosis.

This is Jill’s story.

“When I had my bone density scan in December 2015, I was given a report which featured red all over it,” Jill said.

“The doctor explained my femur was equivalent to a 75 year old’s, and my spine to that of a 79 year old, but I was only 62 years old!”

Prior to her diagnosis of osteoporosis, Jill knew “next to nothing” about the bone disease. She had no known family history of osteoporosis, or any weak bones, that she was aware of.

“When I visited my GP for a routine check-up in December last year, she questioned whether I had ever broken any bones. I informed her about my broken toe four years prior.

“That’s when she grew increasingly concerned and informed me about osteoporosis,” said Jill.

Not wanting to create any fuss at the time, Jill returned home to further research the disease. After extensive reading, Jill chose to remove all of the rugs from her home to minimise her risk of tripping.

When she returned to her doctor, Jill was prescribed osteoporosis bone-building medication. Due to experiencing side effects from this medication, she was promptly switched to another, and has since remained stable.

“I feel perfectly well at present, and have been able to stay active since commencing this treatment.

“I walk a lot and garden, and I’ve just taken up running for the first time in my life.

I’ve been participating in ‘parkrun’ – free, weekly, timed, five kilometre runs in beautiful parks,” Jill said. 

Apart from breaking her toe, Jill claims to have experienced no other issues with her bones to date.

“When I broke my toe five years ago, I got it strapped, it got better, and up until my doctor flagged her concerns about my bone health, I had almost forgotten about it,” said Jill.

Nowadays however, Jill is significantly more cautious about minimising her risk of falls.

“I take more care to avoid falling these days. For instance, if I go out into the garden, I hold onto the wall, and take more care in general while gardening.

“I also have osteoarthritis which causes me pain, and alerts me to the importance of maintaining healthy, strong bones,” Jill said.

Jill has recently joined Osteoporosis Australia, and used the organisation’s online bone health assessment tool, developed in partnership with The Garvan Research Institute, to self-assess her risk of further fracture. 

“It’s an amazing tool, and one I wish I had known about prior to my fracture and diagnosis of osteoporosis.

“It would have been good to have been aware of my bone health and risk of fracture, pre-diagnosis,” said Jill.

Jill has an appointment next month with leading, Melbourne-based endocrinologist and Medical Director of Osteoporosis Australia, Professor Peter Ebeling, to glean more insights on osteoporosis, her risk of re-fracture, and how to best combat the so-called “silent” disease.

In the interim, she has modified her diet to include foods rich in calcium, and is conscious whenever exercising, to both strengthen, and care for, her bones.

“If you don’t know whether you’re at risk of osteoporosis, I recommend jumping online the Know Your Bones assessment tool today, and learning all about your risk of the disease, and how to prevent fractures, or delay their onset for as long as possible.

“After all, if you don’t know your risk of osteoporosis, then how can you expect to combat the silent disease?” Jill questioned.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    1st May 2017
    It is important to know your tscores as there are degrees of the loss of bone density. -2.5 and less is osteopenia and beyond that is osteoporosis. Do some natural things to treat osteoporosis like walking. It is vital to research this carefully.Take vitamin K2 to aim the calcium onto the bones. Vitamin D3 is very important as well. Magnesium is another one that is beneficial. There are foods to include in your diet such as avocados, bone broth, leafy greens, cucumber and dairy products. Dr Brown is a good source of information and patient.uk online is a place to get support and information.
    Bone density is not bone strength. People who are small have smaller bones. The main thing is to avoid falls. Just as many people without osteoporosis break bones as those who do have osteoporosis.
    The age attached to bone density is flawed. It the tscore you need to have. A 79 year old may not have osteoporosis whereas a younger person might.
    Whether or not you have osteoporosis you need to look after your bones.
    1st May 2017
    Well said GrandmaKathleen. I also take a Strontium supplement, but not at the same time as Calcium of course. Incidentally, too much Calcium damages the arteries around the heart. The issue is not just about bone density but bone flexibility. That is never discussed with you by doctors. Do they know anything about it? As an analogy, think about a green flexible twig - it doesn't break easily. Then consider a dense dry twig... I would NEVER take Alendronate medications such as Fosemax. This is a dangerous drug. I live in a retirement village where two Residents who take Fosemax have teeth that are falling out due to the side effects of Fosemax. Also you are more likely to break your femur if you take this drug.
    1st May 2017
    Jennie -- good on you for telling people about
    -- Alendronate medications -- I was on Fosamax and had the problems that you speak of and the Dentist was very reluctant to touch me and I had to take full responsibility if my jaw was to break -- of course the Drs / Chemists ect still tell you these things are "VERY RARE" but I know of 4 other people -- besides myself --that have had dreadful effects with this medication and ALSO Prolia -- the 6 monthly injection.
    The medical profession are making a fortune from scripting it, do not every take it, these meds cause more trouble AND pain than they fix!

    These Meds' just make your bones so hard and brittle that you can break a femur just by standing --
    1st May 2017
    Not to forget the huge benefits of regular, progressive weight bearing exercise that can certainly arrest if not reverse bone loss.
    1st May 2017
    Jennie, yes well said from you too. Add vitamin K2 as it directs the calcium onto the bones away from the arteries and has many other benefits as well. We cannot get sufficient t from our diet as we would have to eat a kilogram of old cheese a day for example.
    People must get the actual tscores as that is the relevant piece of information then as they address the issue with diet and exercise they can measure any improvement.
    The drugs are very dangerous and they make the bones brittle so they defeat the purpose. People are kept on them too long. Research, research, research!
    1st May 2017
    Yes I do take K2, plenty of D3, Magnesium and Silica. Weight bearing is of course excellent. My mother was diagnosed with "only" osteopenia and broke her hip and C2 (in her neck.) She had taken Calcium, D3 (not sure about K2) and did calisthenics. The only thing she didn't take was HRT - that also improves bones. The doctor prescribed Fosemax. Fortunately she didn't take it for many years, BUT her teeth started to fall out and her bone density increased by such a minute amount it wasn't worth the risk.
    1st May 2017
    Well I did the questionnaire -- what a load of rubbish said I would be 3% chance of fractures in the next 5 years -- I have had fractures for years now and keep getting more
    1st May 2017
    Weight bearing exercise plenty of sunshine eat lots of calcium rich foods and take supplements.Ill thank you fro sharing your story. Please tell your daughters as it can be passed onto daughters as my sisters have the condition.It does not have to be a life sentence.
    1st May 2017
    My Mother was riddled with Osteoporosis and I guess I am following in her path -- however, I did remain better for longer than she did.

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