Glossary of Terms

Activities of daily living: Basic necessary skills to be independent such as bathing and dressing.

Amenorrhea: Absence of menstruation for 3 months or more, not due to pregnancy, may be due to over training and eating disorder.

Anabolic agent: Medication, steroid hormone, or substance intended to build bone; examples are Forsteo (Teriperatide) and testosterone.

Anorexia nervosa: A disorder characterised by fear of becoming fat, thinking that their body is larger than it really is, severe weight loss, and an aversion to food. Commonly thought of as a young girl’s disease, it is now recognised in men and women of all ages.

Antiresorptive agents: Medications and substances that decrease bone resorption (bone breakdown).

Biochemical marker: Substances found in blood and urine that can be tested to determine the rate of bone turnover in a person.

Bisphosphonates: A group of anti-resorptive agents such as Actonel, Boniva, Aclasta and Fosamax, which help to slow the rate at which bone is broken down.

Body mass index (BMI): A measurement of body fat in adults, based on a person’s height and weight.

Bone mass: The density or quantity of bone.

Bone mineral density (BMD) tests (DXA / DEXA): This is a safe, painless and non-invasive test to evaluate bone mineral density.

Bone modelling: A process that takes place in childhood and adolescence in which bone is removed and more is replaced. For healthy bones during bone growth, the amount of new bone being formed should exceed the amount of old bone being broken down.

Bone remodelling: A process that occurs after peak bone mass is reached in early adulthood. Bone forming cells respond to the activity of the bone breakdown cells. When bone formation does not keep pace with bone breakdown, Osteoporosis occurs.

Bone turnover: The process of breaking down of bone and new bone being formed in its place that occurs through-out life. When bone is growing (during childhood through early adulthood) new formation exceeds breakdown; later in life this process changes and the breakdown of bone exceeds formation.

Bulimia: An eating disorder that usually includes episodes of binge eating (eating very large amounts of food) and purging (forcing vomiting or diarrhoea to get food out of the system). It can affect females and males.

Calcitonin: A hormone naturally secreted by the thyroid gland that make the osteoclasts less active allowing for more bone formation to take place.

Calcium: A mineral essential for the production and function of bone. When daily amounts of calcium are not reached it is removed from bone. It is also vital for the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.

Central bones: Bones that are found in the main or central areas of the body, such as the hips and spine. These bones provide the best measures for determining bone mineral density.

Collagen: A protein substance used by osteoblasts to make new bone and keep teeth strong. It is found in connective tissue such as skin, ligaments and tendons.

Contrast dye: A dye that is given orally or intravenously for the purposes of focusing certain types of imaging tests. This should not be taken within 2 weeks before having a bone mineral density test.

Cortisol: A steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that regulates bone growth. If a person’s levels of cortisol are too high, bone loss will occur.

Disability: A physical or mental impairment that can cause a person to have difficulty performing certain activities of daily living.

Dowager’s hump: Also known as a Kyphosis. This is when the bones in the spine collapse and a hump develops on the upper back.

DXA / DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry): A test that measures bone mineral density in the hips and spine. A DXA test use a form of x-ray imaging that is analysed through a computer to give results in the terms of T-scores and Z-scores. It is considered the gold standard for measuring bone loss and diagnosing Osteoporosis.

Endometriosis: A painful condition characterised by the abnormal presence of endometrial (uterine lining) tissue outside the uterus, such as on the ovary, colon, or bladder.

Oestrogen: Known as a female sex hormone although it is also found in men in small amounts; primarily secreted by the ovary in response to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and is also made in body tissues in both men and women.

Estrogen therapy (ET): Estrogen-containing products that are used in the treatment of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Estrogen taken by itself for the treatment of menopausal symptoms is also called MHT (menopause hormone therapy).

Fracture: To break a bone.

Fragility fracture: Term used to describe a fracture that occurs with very little trauma or force from a standing position or less. A force that is usually not great enough to cause broken bones, usually indicating that the bone is weak. Also known as a low trauma fracture or an Osteoporotic fracture.

Glucocorticoid induced Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis caused by taking gluco-corticoids (commonly called steroids), a class of medication taken for their anti-inflammatory effects on illnesses, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Asthma, Lupus and Crohn’s disease.

Gluten intolerance: An allergy to wheat which occurs in coeliac disease. Can cause intestinal absorption problems.

Growth hormone: Hormone secreted by the pituitary gland and especially important for bone growth during puberty.

Hip protector: A protective pad worn on the hips that may prevent a hip fracture in frail senior citizens.

Hot flashes: Sensations of heat, occurring during perimenopause and often well into post menopause, that begin at the head and can spread over the entire body. This occurs with an increase in luteinising hormone. This is not a health hazard. It may be accompanied by sweating and can cause significant discomfort and can interfere with a person’s sleep.

Hypogonadism: Inadequate testicular or ovarian function, most commonly causing low levels of testosterone.

Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus.

Induced menopause: Permanent menopause that is not natural; can be caused as a result of removal of the ovaries (surgical), chemotherapy, or radiation to the pelvis.

Kyphoplasty: A surgical procedure used to relieve pain of VCFs (Vertebral compression fractures), which combines vertebroplasty and angioplasty by placing a balloon in the fractured vertebra and filling it with a cement-like substance.

Kyphosis: A deformity of the spine that develops when the front edges of the bones of the spine collapse due to Osteoporosis; also called “Dowager’s Hump”.

Lactose intolerance: Occurs when the small intestine does not make enough lactase, the enzyme required to break down the lactose (milk sugar) in milk products before they enter the large intestine. It can cause bloating, pain, gas, and diarrhoea.

Low trauma fracture: Term used to describe a fracture that occurs with very little trauma or force or from a standing position or less, that is usually not great enough to cause broken bones, usually indicating that the bone is weak.

Menopause: The specific point in time occurring after twelve consecutive months without a menstrual period that does not have another identifiable cause such as an illness or a medication.

MHT (menopause hormone therapy): Hormone therapy (HT) was changed to MHT to distinguish it from other types of hormone therapy that are not given to alleviate the symptoms of menopause. See Oestrogen therapy.

Osteoporotic fracture: Term used to describe a fracture that occurs with very little trauma or force or from a standing position or less, that is usually not great enough to cause broken bones, usually indicating that the bone is weak.

Night sweats: Sweating that occurs at night resulting from hot flashes during perimenopause and post menopause.

Obesity: Condition of being severely overweight based on a body mass index greater then 30 and associated with many health problems.

Osteoarthritis: Inflammation and stiffness of the joints that usually occurs in older persons, as a result of deterioration of the cartilage around the joints.

Osteoblasts: Cells that cause bone formation.

Osteoclast: Cells that cause bone breakdown.

Osteomalacia: A softening of bones caused by vitamin D deficiency because of diet or ailments that impair normal vitamin D absorption can cause bone pain, leg deformities, and fractures; can also be called adult rickets.

Osteopenia: A condition in which there is low bone mass or low bone density, but not to the same degree as Osteoporosis. Osteopenia means bones (osteo) are lacking (penia). It is a T-score is between -1.0 and -2.5.

Osteoporosis: The most common bone disease in the world in which bones become less dense, lose strength, and are more likely to break (fracture). Osteoporosis means bones (osteo) with holes (porosis).

Paget’s disease: Causes large, deformed bones due to the excessive breakdown and formation of bone. Although totally unrelated to Osteoporosis, it can occur with Osteoporosis in the same bones.

Parathyroid hormone (PTH): A hormone secreted by the parathyroid glands that assists in the regulation of calcium by promoting the absorption of calcium from the intestine and reducing the loss of calcium through urine excretion. Also, the active ingredient in Forsteo, a medication and anabolic agent used to treat Osteoporosis.

Peak bone mass: The highest amount of bone present in the human body, usually obtained by early adulthood.

Pilates: A type of activity for muscles that promotes strength and flexibility.

Post menopause: The time following menopause during which estrogen loss is the major cause of Osteoporosis in women past midlife.

Premature menopause: Permanent menopause occurring in women younger than 45 years of age; also refers to women who have induced or surgical menopause.

Prescription medication: An instruction from a health care professional, who is licensed to provide written authorisation of medications or devices to be issued by a pharmacy.

QCT (quantitative computed tomography): Type of radiography that uses CT scan technology to measure the bone density in the spine.

Resorption: Process by the osteoclasts of breaking down bone.

Secondary Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis at any age resulting from illnesses, conditions, or medications that cause bone loss.

Sedentary lifestyle: A way of living that involves little or no exercise.

SERMs (Selective Oestrogen Receptor Modulators): Antiresorptive medications that help to reduce bone loss by their positive estrogenic effects.

Sex hormones: A chemical substance formed in one organ or part of the body that can alter the function or structure of another organ, tissue, or various numbers of them; examples are oestrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, which stimulate bone growth.

Standard deviation: A mathematical measure that indicates how far or how near something is to the mean (average).

Supplements: Additional doses of vitamins, minerals, or other dietary substances; usually taken to enhance diet to get the recommended amount for your age, gender and medical conditions.

Tai chi: A form of exercise that combines meditation and flexibility training.

Testosterones: A steroid hormone formed by the testes in males and, to a far lesser degree, by the ovary and adrenal glands in women; responsible for male characteristics such as a deep voice and facial hair; is important for normal sexual development and function as well as normal bone development in both men and women.

Thyroid hormones: Secreted by the thyroid gland, these natural chemicals regulate the body’s metabolism and help to control the rate of bone remodelling; too much can cause bone destruction.

Total hysterectomy: Although technically only refers to removal of the uterus, “total” is sometimes used to refer to removal of the uterus ovaries and fallopian tubes.

T-score: A positive or negative number, representing the number of standard deviations that is calculated based on a comparison between your bone mineral density with that of healthy young adults. T-scores between -1.0 and -2.49 indicate osteopenia; T-scores -2.5 and greater indicate Osteoporosis.

Vertebrae: Individual bones of the spine. Fractures of these bones are the most common fractures in people with Osteoporosis.

Vertebral compression fracture (VCF): A fracture of the body of a vertebra (spine bone) that collapses and makes it thinner and weaker. Usually results from Osteoporosis but can also result from complications of cancer or some injuries.

Vertebral fracture: See vertebral compression fracture.

Vertebroplasty: A non-surgical procedure that involves injecting a cement-like substance into the fractured vertebra to stabilise it and relieve pain.

Vitamin D: Also known as calciferol which is actually a hormone; a nutrient important for absorbing and regulating calcium and phosphorus levels. Sunlight, fortified products, or supplements are usually necessary in order to get the required amounts of daily vitamin D.

Weight-bearing exercise: Types of activity that places weight on certain bones; necessary for bone growth; examples are walking, dancing, and stair-climbing.

Z-score: Matches your bone mineral density with individuals of the same age, gender and ethnicity. It is used in children and premenopausal women.