KUWAIT: Medtronic and concerned healthcare professionals have today issued a strong message urging those either at risk or already suffering from osteoporosis to take additional steps to tackle this often debilitating disease.

This plea coincides with World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) today. Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. It is characterized by low bone mass and loss of bone tissue that may lead to fragile bones. People suffering from osteoporosis have an increased risk of bone fractures. “At least one in three women and one in five men over the age of fifty will suffer from a fracture due to osteoporosis,” said Dr Abdulrazzaq Al-Obaid, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, Alrazi orthopedic Hospital “Despite being a serious health issue that is only set to become more common as our population ages, awareness of osteoporosis is low in Kuwait- even among some healthcare providers.”

Unfortunately, this lack of awareness means many people with osteoporosis go undiagnosed and are at risk of painful and debilitating fractures and an impaired quality of life. For patients who have the disease and aren’t undergoing treatment the risk of suffering new fractures is high.

The exact prevalence of osteoporosis in the Kuwait is unknown but one study of nearly 2300 women aged 40 to 87 years, found that 19.3% suffered from osteoporosis

Meaningful innovation

Prevention approaches focus on lifestyle factors, such as eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly to keep the bones strong, as well as having a periodic bone health check-up. For those who have developed osteoporosis but haven’t been diagnosed, back pain could be a sign that something is wrong.

Sudden onset of pain or a chronic, dull ache in the back could indicate that a spinal fracture has occurred. “If you have back pain that lasts for more than several days, schedule a visit with your doctor so that the cause of your back pain can be determined and treated,” urged Dr Al-Obaid. Spinal fractures can cause extreme pain, long or short-term disability, Dowager’s hump, and significant loss in quality of life.

Fortunately, an innovative treatment is now available that can alleviate the suffering associated with this kind of fracture. Medtronic - the world’s largest medical technology development company - has developed a quick, minimally invasive treatment that is available in Kuwait.

The treatment uses small balloons to gently elevate the fractured area of the spine, creating a cavity, and then special cement is used to fill the cavity, forming an internal cast.

After the procedure patients experience a significant reduction in back pain and are soon able to return to their daily activities. “This is truly an example of meaningful innovation that is globally accessible,” said Joe Akel, Vice President for Restorative Therapies Group, Medtronic. “With our unique procedure called Kyphon Balloon Kyphoplasty it only takes about an hour to treat a fracture and the procedure can be done on an outpatient or an inpatient basis, depending on the needs of the patient.”

“On this important global awareness day we’re urging people to learn about osteoporosis and how to prevent it and for those already with the disease to educate themselves about treatment options that can relieve the burden of the disease.”