Over Age 65? Any Bone Fracture Might Indicate Osteoporosis

Lila de Tantillo Health Guide
  • A recap of research and events related to bone health, from an osteoporosis study that changes the way we look at the causes of fracture to a look at poor nutrition during childhood and rickets.


    Osteoporosis, Types of Trauma, and Underlying Causes of Fracture


    Important research suggests that contrary to what was once believed, any fracture -- not just one resulting from mild trauma -- could be indicative of osteoporosis in an older person. In the past, physicians often disregarded the possibility of the underlying bone disease when someone broke a bone during a motor vehicle accident or a major fall (from greater than standing height), perhaps considering such fractures as the inevitable result of a violent impact. Breaking a wrist after simply tripping at home, however, would be more likely to raise red flags, for example. But researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center, supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) -- both components of the National Institutes of Health -- have shown otherwise. 

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    Women who suffered fractures from high-trauma situations were more likely to experience future fractures, and for all participants, bone mineral density was related to the incidence of both high-trauma and low-trauma fractures. The message for older people is that if one breaks a bone because of a major accident or tumble, one shouldn't just assume it was an unavoidable fracture, and one should consider discussing with a physician measures (such as A DXA scan) to diagnose a potential case of underlying osteoporosis.


    A Link Between Depression and Premature Thinning of the Bone


    A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine once again demonstrates a link between depression and premature thinning of the bone. The research seems to indicate that this troubling finding, which can lead to early osteoporosis and possibly fractures, is not simply related to the use of antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have previously been linked to fractures) but possibly a consequence of the depression itself. The theory is that depression can result in the production of excess adrenaline, which in turn can overstimulate the immune system and result in higher levels of inflammation-promoting proteins that may also cause bone loss. Also check out the abstract for the depression study.


    Rickets and Poor Nutrition in Youths


    The increase in cases of rickets diagnosed in recent years may just be the tip of the iceberg of future health problems associated with poor youth nutrition and limited exercise, according to recent studies. Of special concern is osteoporosis, since pretty much all of an adult's bone mass is built up by the time the person is 30. A well-researched article by the Associated Press outlined the trend -- and its possible consequences. While severe Vitamin D deficiency can result in the bowing of the legs known as rickets, the prevalence of the sedentary lifestyle and too little milk may be contributing to more fractures now as well as problems down the road for a number of children with no obvious symptoms.


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    Hopefully awareness efforts to get kids moving -- like NYC's "Saints and Spinners" fundraiser to combat childhood obesity with Oprah's Dr. Oz (http://www.healthcorps.net/SaintsSpinners.pdf) can help counteract this disturbing trend.

Published On: July 03, 2008