Cornélie Camal is 87 years old and lives in Herstal, Belgium.
With the exception of a thyroid problem, Cornélie was in overall good health and very active, until at the age of 80, she suddenly experienced significant pain in the spine.
She sought medical attention and an X-ray subsequently revealed multiple vertebral (spine) fractures.
Even before the spine fractures came to clinical attention, there had been some warning signs. Cornélie had noticed a gradual loss of height. In fact, it turned out to be a considerable 19 cm of height loss. Although there was no family history of osteoporosis or fracture, Cornélie’s bone health may have been affected by her very early menopause, at only 33 years of age. With menopause, women have lower levels of estrogen, which leads to a decrease in bone density. Women who experience early menopause, before the age of 45, are at greater risk of osteoporosis.
Cornélie had been treated for more than 10 years with bisphosphonates, after osteoporosis has been initiatlly diagnosed following an earlier wrist fracture that had occurred following a fall from standing height. Following the discovery of vertebral fractures, therapeutic alternatives to bisphosphonates were proposed by Cornélie’s doctors, but unfortunately, she was unable to tolerate the medications.
Not long after the vertebral fracture diagnosis, Cornélie sustained two falls in her home that resulted in hip fractures.
The fractures have had a dramatic impact on her daily life. She has great difficulties walking, and now uses technical aids to get around. She cannot stand up straight because the vertebral fractures have caused a significant stoop in her back. To help her maintain a certain functional capacity and to relieve the pain in her spine, Cornélie attends regular physiotherapy sessions. She also takes calcium and vitamin D and ensures regular follow up visits to the Physical Medicine Department of the University Hospital of Liège.
Fortunately, Cornélie is well cared for at home by her son. He has adapted his entire life to help care for her and to help prevent her from sustaining falls and fractures.
Cornélie has not suffered a fracture since 2016. She is very happy, but greatly regrets that fragility fractures due to osteoporosis have resulted in a sudden deterioration of her quality of life.
She greatly hopes that by participating in this World Osteoporosis Day campaign, she is helping to raise awareness of the importance of bone health and the early prevention of osteoporosis.