Skip to main content

What is osteoporosis?

The word ‘osteoporosis' means ‘porous bone.' It is a disease that weakens bones, and if you have it, you are at a greater risk for sudden and unexpected bone fractures. Osteoporosis means that you have less bone mass and strength. The disease often develops without any symptoms or pain. It is usually not discovered until the weakened bones cause painful fractures. Most of these are fractures of the hip, wrist and spine.

It is estimated that one in three women, and one in five men, will suffer from osteoporosis-related fractures in their lifetime. So what are the factors that affect our bone health? And how can we prevent or manage osteoporosis?

Bone health is critical to your overall well-being. Healthy bones help protect us against falls and fractures that can occur with ageing. Bone deterioration may be accelerated by lack of exercise, smoking, and inadequate calcium intake. Osteoporosis, which is a decline in the density of our bones, increases the risk of fracture when bones have become more fragile.

How can our bone health clinic help?

Blackrock Health offers a bone health service to our patients. This offers prevention and treatment options for those with Osteoporosis.

Patients with osteoporosis can benefit from a bone health service in several ways. First, early detection and prevention of osteoporosis through regular screening. This allows for early intervention and better outcomes for those at risk of developing the disease. Second, our bone health service increases patient access to information. This provides education on how to maintain healthy bones. Finally, patients who receive treatment from a bone health service typically have fewer fractures. This is due to better preventive strategies and improved treatment options.

Blackrock Health is home to some of the most established private orthopaedic faculties in Ireland. We can carry out minimally invasive surgeries in hi-tech facilities across all our hospitals. We offer comprehensive musculoskeletal care, with dedicated inpatient orthopaedic and spinal wards. If you have day-case surgery, our team will care for you on our comfortable day wards.  

We offer the full range of orthopaedics, including consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare. Our orthopaedic consultants are internationally recognised and conduct thousands of procedures every year. Our hospitals have expert multi-disciplinary teams - including clinical nurse specialists and physiotherapists. And we use the latest technology, from robot surgery to spinal navigation techniques and real-time imaging. 

Blackrock Clinic is also one of the first private hospitals in Ireland to use the Irish National Orthopaedic Register (INOR). This is a national database informing on orthopaedic surgeries and outcomes in Ireland. [LINK]. The aim of this register is to improve patient outcomes. Both the Hermitage Clinic and Galway Clinic are expected to enrol with INOR in 2023. 

You can access our services quickly and easily with a referral from your GP and can then enjoy world-class clinical care and comfort. Over 75% of our rooms are single occupancy - to help you make a quicker recovery in a safe environment. We aim to provide you with best possible outcome, and to restore your quality of life. 

Osteoporosis, a “Silent Disease”

Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. Indeed, fracture can often be the first symptom. By that time, a person with osteoporosis may already have lost 30% or more of their bone mass. If bone health is dealt with as early as possible, patients can minimise long-term symptoms.

Our goal is to evaluate patients at an early stage. This can help prevent and limit manifestations of the disease, including the major complication - bone fractures. 

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

Osteoporosis is typically diagnosed through a series of tests. These tests include the use of X-rays, but the most common and accurate way to diagnose osteoporosis is through a DEXA scan. A DEXA scan stands for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and measures bone mineral density (BMD) in different areas of the body. The machine captures a detailed picture of the patient’s bones. This can be used to predict which individuals are at risk for fractures due to having low bone density or osteoporosis. It is an effective method for detecting bone mineral density changes over time. For this reason, it is an important tool for health professionals looking to diagnose and prevent osteoporosis.

How is osteoporosis treated?

Treatments for established osteoporosis may include exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medications. Exercise and supplementation are often suggested to help you prevent osteoporosis. Weight-bearing, resistance and balance exercises are all important.

The Bone Health Service is led by a consultant in Rheumatology and involves a multi-disciplinary team, comprising:

  • Dietetics
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pharmacy

Our bone health clinic will use a variety of expertise to help patients achieve the best possible results.

Diet and Supplements

Diet is an important part of any osteoporosis treatment plan. The clinic’s dietitian will work closely with the patient to design an eating plan. This will be rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients and minerals to support strong bones. Proper nutrition can also help reduce inflammation, which can be a major cause of further bone loss.

Supplementation is also a common tool used by our clinics to provide extra sources of nutrients which may not be present in the patient’s daily diet. Vitamin D3 and magnesium supplements may be recommended to help improve bone health.

Physiotherapy and Exercise

Exercise plays an important role in maintaining strong and healthy bones. This can both manage existing issues and prevent new ones. The clinic will likely suggest exercises specific to the patient’s needs. This could include balance training, resistance training and weight-bearing exercises. It may also include low-impact activities like yoga or swimming. These activities are designed to strengthen the muscles around the bones. This provides stabilisation, stability and improved range of motion. It also protects patients from further injury or damage if they have previously had a sedentary lifestyle.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy may also be used by the clinic when helping patients manage their condition. This form of therapy provides practical strategies for reducing the risk of falls. This may include tailored goal setting exercises such as greater use of mobility aids and equipment. It will also include practical advice on improving daily life activities and education on how reduce common hazards in the home. Occupational therapists often work side by side with physiotherapists. Together, they can provide comprehensive care plans for optimal results.


Patients need to be careful about researching medications online for their medical condition. Before taking any medication, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare provider. They can determine if a particular drug is suitable for you. You should not self-diagnose based on online research, as there may be potential interactions with drugs you're already taking. Additionally, websites often contain inaccurate or outdated information. Please make sure to check with a legitimate source, such as your doctor or pharmacist before making any health decisions. Lastly, be aware that some online sources may have a marketing bias or may be selling products that are not approved for use in Ireland. 

Bearing all this in mind, here are some of the prescribing options open to our Bone Health team when dealing with our patients.

  1. Bisphosphonates: These are medicines that help to slow down bone loss in individuals with certain grades of osteoporosis.
  2. Hormone therapy: This is often prescribed to women who have gone through menopause. These medicines can help raise oestrogen and testosterone levels and reduce bone loss in certain cases.
  3. Calcium supplements: A vitamin D supplement may also be recommended. This helps the body absorb calcium more effectively and reduce bone loss over time.
  4. Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs): These medications help regulate hormones. This can help improve symptoms of osteoporosis.
  5. Denosumab injections: This injectable medication is used primarily for post-menopausal women. It helps increase the strength of bones by stopping cells from breaking them down further, slowing the progression of the disease.
  6. Teriparatide (Forteo): This medicine is a synthetic form of human parathyroid hormone. It helps build stronger bones by stimulating new bone growth.
  7. Vitamin K2 supplements: Vitamin K2 aids in calcium absorption into the bones. It is thought to be more effective when taken with Vitamin D3 supplements as well as calcium intake. It supports better bone health and bone density.
How do I get this?

If you are awaiting a diagnosis from your GP, you may need a referral letter before you make an appointment. If you are referring for a physiotherapy consultation, you can contact us directly.

Is this insured?

Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance Cover Check page, or by contacting your health insurer. 

How do I pay?

If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.

Available at:
  • Blackrock Clinic
  • Hermitage Clinic

Blackrock Clinic

Rock Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, A94E4X7
Bone Health

Hermitage Clinic

Old Lucan Road, Dublin, D20 W722
Bone Health