Osteoporosis Related Fractures

Fractures most often occur in the hip, bone, and spine but can occur anywhere if the bone mass lost is severe enough. Osteoporosis is often referred to as the silent disease because people often don’t know they have the disease until a bone breaks, frequently in a minor fall that wouldn’t normally cause a fracture.

Loss of bone in itself usually has no visible effect on the body unless a fracture occurs. When the bones are significantly low in bone mass, even simple acts such as coughing, sneezing or getting out of bed could cause a fracture.

A Bone Mineral Density test (BMD) is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine risk for future fracture.

Myths

It is believed that osteoporosis is not that common, only happens to women or does not have much of an effect on most people. This is simply not true. While osteoporosis is not usually categorized with more “serious” or life threatening diseases, the devastating affects of fractures are real.

As it stands right now the lifetime risk of hip, spine and wrist factors is about 40 percent for Caucasian women and about 13 percent for men. There is a discernable difference in fractures between men and women, however after a certain age, the risk of fracture is equal.

Over the age of 50, 1 in 3 women as well as1 in 5 men will experience a fracture from osteoporosis. The combined lifetime risk for hip, forearm and vertebral fractures coming to clinical attention is around 40%, equivalent to the risk for cardiovascular disease.

75% of these types of fractures occur in patients who are over the age of 65. By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture in men is projected to increase by 310% and 240% in women.

Statistics

Hip fractures alone are perpetually associated with chronic pain, reduced mobility, disability, and an increasing degree of dependence. About 20-25% of hip fractures occur in men. The overall mortality is about 20% in the first 12 months after hip fracture and is higher in men than women.

Although the overall prevalence of fragility fractures is higher in women, men generally have higher rates of fracture related mortality A 50 year old woman has a 2.8% risk of death related to hip fracture during her remaining lifetime, equivalent to her risk of death from breast cancer and 4 times higher than that from endometrial cancer.

It is disconcerting to know that many women who sustain a fragility fracture are not appropriately diagnosed and treated for probable osteoporosis.

This is even more disturbing when considering that a prior fracture increases the rate of subsequent fractures by up to 90%. Vertebral fractures can lead to back pain, loss of height, deformity, immobility, increased number of bed days, and even reduced pulmonary function.

This disease impacts us all whether it happens to us personally, our family and friends or complete strangers. The medical costs associated with the treatment of fractures resulting from the disease are believed to be somewhere around 20 billion dollars and climbing.