Lisa’s story: a missed opportunity to spot the osteoporosis risk


19 Oct 2023

Knowing your risk is so important in the fight against osteoporosis. Sometimes there are early warning signs that can be easily missed.

We caught up with Lisa Cole, 51, from Bristol, who works as an optician in a busy clinical environment, to find out more about her story and to encourage others to check their osteoporosis risk and make positive changes for their bone health today.

A series of unfortunate events

Lisa was in her early 40s when she first broke a rib, brushing it off as a ‘silly accident’.

“I first broke my rib in 2014 while living abroad; I slipped in the swimming pool. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and went off on an active expedition, but after a few weeks, I was diagnosed with pneumonia as a result of the break.

“Two years later, when I came back to the UK in 2016, I broke my elbow when I slipped on a wet pier. Again, I didn’t realise that I’d broken a bone initially and carried on with my day. Eventually, the pain became unbearable, and I went to the hospital.”

Impact on work

“Years later in 2021, I was playing in the park when I fell and broke my wrist – and it was a bad break. I was unable to work for eight weeks and had to take statutory sick leave. I had surgery which didn’t go as planned and I've been left with a nasty scar.

“I was working for an optician at the time and asked for support to return to work – mainly having a few more minutes to see patients so that I could take things carefully. It was a real wake-up call.”

“I was 49 by then and referred for a DXA scan. Not long before then, it had been confirmed that I’d gone through early menopause without any symptoms, and I was still dealing with the psychological impact of that when I had the DXA scan.”


I was in my 40s when I started breaking bones easily. I wonder if getting my bones checked out would have changed things.


Hearing that you have osteoporosis for the first time can be a challenging and emotional moment, especially if the news is unexpected as it was for Lisa.

“I received the results by post. It said I have osteoporosis. That’s not what I was expecting at all. I remember standing there, thinking ‘oh well, that explains things’. I didn’t register what it actually meant. It should have been a wake-up call to make lifestyle changes and take my medication more regularly. But I didn’t have that mindset at the time. I needed to talk to someone about it, and what that meant for me and my life.”

Psychological support

“I didn’t deal with it very well psychologically – I didn’t take my medication properly. It’s like I had a block. I’m not a pill taker anyway. And then I feel guilty about not taking it. I know I need to speak to my doctor to find a medication that works for me.

“In my job, I’m great at telling others to talk to the GP but I hate to bother the doctor. As osteoporosis is a diagnosed condition that I have to live with and manage I didn’t feel like I needed urgent attention.”

Keeping active

We know that weight-bearing impact exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise are so important for bone health. That’s why Lisa is keen to continue living her active lifestyle.

“My hobby and passion is bouldering – a style of climbing done close to the ground without the use of ropes and harnesses – and I still want to continue with it but feel a little hesitant due to the risk of another break. I have learnt to do what I can within a comfortable boundary and I’ve had some really helpful advice from other climbers that it’s not a competition with others but just enjoy what you can do. I walk a lot more now and have a varied, healthy diet without restrictions.

“It's still a journey that I am on. I’m still breaking things, but I am getting myself in the right place, talking to my GP and having support around me. I wanted to share my experience in the hope that it would help other people.”

Help us break the silence around osteoporosis. Check your risk today in just three minutes with our risk checker. If you’d like to share your story with us, please email

Help our specialist nurses continue to support those in need