“I was cycling slowly across a lawn when I toppled sideways and managed to break my elbow and injure my hip. I was unable to walk without a stick for the next five months and was in a great deal of pain."
But Bill discovered how a lack of awareness and information among practitioners often means early signs are missed.
“A few years later, I was helping move furniture for an elderly aunt who could no longer manage the stairs at home. I’d never had trouble with my back, so when an oak sideboard needed to be moved, I wrapped my arms around it and obliged. The next day I was in agony!”
Once again the signs were missed, as Bill returned several times to his GP but got nothing more than recommendations for different over-the-counter pain killers.
“My GP finally agreed to send me for an X-ray, but didn’t think a DXA scan would be useful. However, I was sure this would help my diagnosis, so told her I would pay for a private scan if she referred me.
Bill’s X-ray revealed a vertebral fracture to his T5, and weakness in the vertebrae on each side. His DXA results gave a spinal T-score of -2.5. At last, he had a diagnosis and could begin treatment. Read more about scans and tests.
“I was then put on weekly risedronate, daily calcium and D3. But I couldn’t help thinking, ‘If I’d known my bones were weak and that I could fracture my back, I wouldn’t have been so fool-hardy as to move that sideboard by myself.’
However, once again, a lack of understanding meant Bill wasn’t out of the woods.
“Three years later I fractured one of the weakened vertebrae and learned that in spite of the regular risedronate, my DXA score had sunk to -3.4. It emerged that my diet was rendering the oral risedronate ineffective through poor absorption.
“I was referred to an excellent rheumatologist who, with support from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, managed to secure 18 months of daily Teriparitide injections. Since then I’ve had annual infusions of zoledronate and my DXA has risen to -2.4. This is a score that I never expected to achieve again and I’m enormously grateful to my rheumatologist for setting me down this road.”