What are fragility fractures?
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that lessens bone density. This degeneration can cause painful bone fractures in many who deal with this disease. Osteoporosis affects 1 in 2 women over 50 and 1 in 3 men over 50. Women past 50 have a 50% chance of having a fracture in their remaining lifetime.
Since there are no immediate symptoms of osteoporosis, these fractures alert many people to the disease. If the incident that caused the fracture would not typically result in a fracture, it is referred to as a fragility fracture.
Most fragility fractures occur on the forearm, hip, and spine. The latter two can be especially debilitating and may require therapy to overcome. Fragility fractures inhibit movement, cause pain, and can leave a victim feeling frightened of basic movement. Depending on where it occurs, the mortality rate from a fracture can reach 33 percent.
Fragility Fracture Prevention
Falling is the most common source of fragility fractures. While a frequent accident, there are ways you can avoid it. The two reasons a fall occurs are external (environmental) and internal (within the person.)
Below are some external prevention steps you can take.
- Ensure there are no tripping hazards on frequent pathways. This includes picking up items and cleaning any slippery surface you see.
- If you need to cross a walkway with a cord, tape it down with duct tape.
- Install handrails on any stairs that lack them, and ensure the handrail is steady and shows no sign of wear.
- Light any room you enter properly in order to have a clear view of your path.
- Some of the worst falls will occur when you are up on a step stool or chair, reaching for a high-up item. To prevent this, keep your common-use items at standing height.
Below are some internal prevention steps you can take.
- If you are taking medication, look at the side effects to see if drowsiness or dizziness is included.
- The same elderly demographic that is susceptible to osteoporosis is also susceptible to poor vision. Make sure you can see your feet and your path clearly. If not, consult an optometrist about obtaining appropriate eyewear.
- If you have experienced a loss of sensitivity in your lower body due to diabetes or other medical issues, you are likely to drag your feet, leading to tripping over the floor. Check your feet to determine whether you are dragging or lifting them off the ground.
Most falls don’t result in fractures since the human skeleton can typically take standing-height falls. However, with osteoporosis, you will have to make some lifestyle changes to help withstand most falls.
Here are some lifestyle changes for strengthening your bones:
First, ensure that you are eating a vitamin-rich, balanced diet. Of course, dairy is an important aspect of this; however, you should also incorporate vegetables, especially those of the leafy green variety. Not only do these contain high levels of calcium, but they help keep your weight down, which will put less strain on your bones.
Vitamin D is also an important counter to osteoporosis. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, but if you aren’t getting enough, consider taking a supplement.
Avoid smoking and keep caffeine and alcohol consumption to a low level. These substances can speed up the calcium degradation of your bones.
Contrary to popular belief, incorporating high-impact exercises into your routine is crucial for fragility fracture management. Without continual use, your bones will atrophy at a higher rate than normal.
Jumping jacks, jump rope, jogging, and stairs all qualify for this category. But be cautious—if you’re dealing with severe osteoporosis, you do not want to be performing high-impact exercises. Instead, start low-impact exercises, such as walking or low-impact aerobics.
How to approach osteoporosis medication
People with one fragility fracture are twice as likely to endure a second. As such, it is important to treat a fracture seriously and consult a doctor on how to alter your life accordingly.
If your doctor tells you your osteoporosis is severe, you may consider taking medication. Medication for osteoporosis is made to reduce fractures by halting bone degradation.
While all the currently available medications have side effects, it is important to remember that the most common medical osteoporosis treatment only lasts from 3-5 years. However, osteoporosis itself is a lifetime illness. If you have osteoporosis, your chances of fragility fractures are much higher than normal. As such, you should consider the risks and benefits of committing to treatment.
Worried about your risk of a fragility fracture due to bone loss? Come see us at Accelerated Interventional Orthopedics, where Dr. Rich and his team will talk to you about your concerns. Schedule a bone health consult today so we can discuss your next steps to getting optimal bone health.
- Fragility fractures are a serious handicap that can lead to lifestyle decay and death.
- Take steps to reduce your risk of falling.
- Alter your lifestyle habits to strengthen your bones.
- Consider taking medication to halt bone deterioration.