Osteoporosis is a progressive condition that causes the bones to become thin and brittle, making them more prone to fractures. People with multiple sclerosis have been shown to have a lower bone density (known as osteopenia) than the general population, which puts them at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fracture. Other factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis include problems with mobility and weight bearing, long-term exposure to steroids (sometimes used to treat MS relapses), antidepressants or anxiolytics and age.
Osteoporosis is also associated with an inadequate intake of vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D is manufactured by the skin on exposure to sunlight. However, heat sensitivity and living in the UK may mean that many people with MS do not get enough exposure to sunlight to gain their vitamin D in this way. Calcium is another vital mineral for building and maintaining healthy bones.
- Neurology 2011;77:151-157. Summary Low bone mass in newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis and clinically isolated syndrome.
- Neurology 2012;78(24):1967-1973. Full article Risk of fractures in patients with multiple sclerosis: A population-based cohort study.
- Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2011;26(9):2271-2279. Full article The risk of fracture in patients with multiple sclerosis: the UK general practice research database.
- Osteoporosis International 2011;22(12):2935-2949. Summary Bone health in multiple sclerosis.
Last reviewed: December 2013
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