The Dangers of Fragility Fractures

Pam Flores | Oct 13, 2015 June 24, 2000

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Fragility fractures happen from a fall from a standing height, or less, that results in a fracture. Fragility fractures can also occur from a minimal trauma, like bending forward to pick something up off the floor or from reaching for an item on a high cabinet shelf; these types of fractures are present in one-half of all women and one-quarter of all men over the age of 50.

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The most common causes and locations for fragility fractures

The hip, spine and wrist are the most common bones susceptible to fragility fractures.  We should be able to withstand a fall from a standing height, unless there is an underlying cause for bone loss that would make the bones more fragile.

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Facts about fragility fractures

If you’ve had a previous fragility fracture, you are twice as likely to have another.  Fragility fractures have reached epidemic proportion with a total of 2 million fractures each year, which is more than breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks combined.

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Diagnosing osteoporosis with a fragility fracture

Once you’ve sustained a fragility fracture you are automatically given a diagnosis of osteoporosis regardless of your T-score.  Before we had DXA scans to determine bone loss, we used the first fragility fracture as the diagnosis for osteoporosis.

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Benefits of treating fragility fractures

Successful treatment and identification of fragility fractures can reduce fractures by 50 percent, according to the University of Michigan’s fragility fracture clinic.  Early recognition and treatment of these types of fractures can reduce the cost of treating this type of fracture and it will also reduce the unnecessary suffering and physical limitations it can cause.

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Non-modifiable risk factors for fragility fractures

Some medical disorders can cause bone loss and fractures; rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, diabetes and Crohn’s or celiac disease are secondary disorders for bone loss, so if you have one of these talk to your doctor about its treatment and how that might prevent a fragility fracture.

NEXT: Identifying and Treating Hip Fractures