Talking to your GP about your bone health

If you’re worried about your bone health and think you might be at risk of osteoporosis and broken bones, it’s important to talk to your GP. But not everyone feels confident seeing a doctor. You may feel anxious and unable to take everything in. Or you might forget to share important information, or to ask all of your questions.

The following information aims to help you start a conversation with your GP about your bone health. It may also help you prepare for your appointment so that you get the most out of it.

You might be worried about wasting your doctor’s time, particularly if you don’t feel unwell or have any pain. But remember that your GP will want to help you keep your bones healthy. So don’t put off talking to them, particularly if you’ve completed our osteoporosis risk checker and we’ve suggested you make an appointment to discuss your bone health.


Why might I make an appointment?

There are several reasons why you might consider talking to your GP about your bones, including the following.

If any of these apply to you, it’s worth making an appointment to speak with your GP. They can assess your bone health and talk to you about helpful lifestyle changes. They can also talk to you about bone-strengthening drug treatments, if you need one, or refer you for further tests.


Preparing for your appointment

The following tips may help you feel more confident about your appointment, so that you can get the most out of it.

Decide what you want to say

GP appointments are usually short, so it’s helpful to work out what you want to say before you go. Write down anything you want them to know – for example any risk factors or symptoms you have. If you’re likely to feel anxious, you may want to write some full sentences to help you start the conversation.

Choose a time that works for you

You may not have a choice of appointments. But if you are given a choice, try to pick a time when you won’t be feeling rushed or stressed. You’re more likely to feel calm and understand what the doctor says that way.

If you get a phone appointment, make sure you can take it in a quiet, private place. Remember that the doctor will probably call from a withheld number.

Take a notepad and pen

Write down any advice your doctor gives you, to help you remember it. If you aren’t sure how to spell something, they should be happy to write it down for you.

Take someone with you

If you’d rather not go on your own, consider asking a family member or friend to go with you. This can be particularly helpful if you find it hard to understand or remember medical information, or if English isn’t your first language.

If you have a phone appointment, you could ask a family member or friend to sit and listen to the phone call with you. Or it may be possible to dial them into the conversation if they can’t be with you.

Consider recording the conversation

Some people like to record their appointments on a mobile phone or other recording device, so they can listen again in their own time. You have the right to record the conversation, but you should always check that your GP is happy with this, as not everyone likes being recorded.

Take your osteoporosis risk checker results

If you’ve used our osteoporosis risk checker, you may find it helpful to take a copy of your results with you. This should make it easy for you to explain why you’ve decided to make an appointment, and the risk factors that you have. If your doctor hasn’t heard of our risk checker, you may want to give them the website address so they can check it out:

If you aren’t registered with a GP practice at the moment, you can find your nearest GP surgery using the following links:


During your appointment

Explain why you’ve made the appointment and tell your doctor any information that might be relevant – for example, any risk factors you have, previous broken bones, or symptoms. This will help your doctor to assess your bone health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. It’s important that you get all the information you need and feel involved in any decisions that are made.

If they recommend treatment

If your GP feels your risk of breaking a bone is a lot higher than normal, they may recommend you start an osteoporosis drug treatment. If so, ask them to explain why they’re recommending this and how it will help your bones.

If you need time to think about things, make sure you have all the information you need to decide what’s right for you. Your doctor should be able to give you information to take away and read in your own time, or you can read our information about osteoporosis treatments.

If they refer you

Your GP may decide to refer you to a hospital specialist for further tests or scans. Make sure you understand why they’re referring you, and what the appointment is likely to involve. You may want to read about the scans and tests that can be used to help assess your bone strength. This will help you know what to expect and what the results might mean.

If they decide your osteoporosis risk is low

Your GP may say that your risk of osteoporosis is low and that, at least for now, you don’t need to worry about your bones.

Make sure you understand why they’ve reached this decision. It’s fine to ask them, particularly if you’re not sure you agree. For example, you could say something like, ‘I’ve read that the risk factors I have are important risk factors for osteoporosis – for my own peace of mind, could you just explain why you don’t think they’re anything to be concerned about?’ This will help to reassure you that you’re being given the right advice.

Whatever your risk of osteoporosis and broken bones, your GP will probably suggest ways to improve your diet and lifestyle to support your bone health. We have lots of information on nutrition, exercise and vitamin D to help you do this.


What if I’m unhappy with the advice I’m given?

Your GP should take your concerns seriously and give you appropriate advice, based on your own situation and risk factors. But if you aren’t convinced, you may want to consider the following ideas.

  • Ask your GP to explain their advice and make sure you understand what they tell you.
  • Read more about your own risk factors, so that you understand how significant they’re likely to be.
  • If you’ve completed our osteoporosis risk checker, consider printing out your results and showing them to your doctor.
  • If you haven’t yet used our osteoporosis risk checker, complete it now. It may help you understand your level of risk and whether or not to speak to your doctor again.
  • You could consider seeing a different GP. However, GPs are very busy, so you should only do this if you’re still worried about your risk of breaking a bone.
  • If you’re unhappy with the care and advice you’re given, ask to speak to the practice manager. It’s very unlikely that you’ll need to make an official complaint – but there’s information about how to do this on the NHS website.


Content reviewed: August 2022

Help our specialist nurses continue to support those in need