Fractures are the most dangerous aspect of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic fractures are also called fragility fractures, as they are generally caused without an obvious sign of trauma. In fact, some osteoporotic fractures may not be detected for years, if they do not cause any symptoms. However, in most circumstances, acute and chronic pain with debility is often accompanied with fractures and can lead to further disability and early mortality. Osteoporotic fractures occur mostly in people with low bone density. Since, aging lowers the bone density; it increases the risk of falling and fractures of the hip, spine and wrist.
• Hip fracture: “A hip fracture is also called as broken hip. It mainly affects old persons (above eighty years) after a fall or slip accident. Sometimes, there may be medical reasons such as low blood pressure, fainting associated with the fall as well. Broken hip causes lot of pain around the injured hip due to which the person is unable to move, walk or stand. A hip fracture can be intracapsular (within the joint capsule) or extracapsular (outside the joint). The exact treatment of hip fracture depends upon the intracapsular or extracapsular type of fracture. Most people need a surgery to fix the fracture in the bone.
Picture shows that -the affected leg is shorter and is turned outwards due to a hip fracture.
It is important that underlying osteoporosis be treated after a hip fracture. Due to osteoporosis, these fractures heal slowly or poorly even after surgical repair. Hip fractures cause loss of mobility and certain serious risks are associated with it, such as deep vein thrombosis, pressure sores, and pulmonary embolism. According to the statistics, one in five people with an osteoporotic hip fracture have to rest, and need a walker or cane to move safely even after surgery.
• Spine fracture: Spine fractures are also called compression fractures. Research reveals that a spinal fracture is directly related to the amount of bone loss in a person suffering from osteoporosis. “Band like” pain that radiates from back to the sides of the body is associated with these fractures. Multiple vertebral fractures can lead to stooped posture, loss of height, and chronic pain leading to reduction in mobility. Often, fractures of spinal vertebrae can push bone into adjacent nerves or spinal cords, which may require neurosurgical intervention. Once you experience a spine fracture due to osteoporosis, you are at a very high risk of suffering another such fracture in next few years. About 20 percent of post menopausal women who experience a vertebral fracture are at an increased risk of having another vertebral fracture in the following years.
• Wrist Fracture: Wrist fracture is also called colle’s fracture and is caused by a fall or other trauma. Most wrist fractures occur when a person extends an arm to prevent falling from a standing position. Therefore, the hand and forearm bears all the weight during the fall, resulting in a wrist bone fracture. Wrist fractures are painful and the person may have to stay immobilized in a plaster cast for four to six weeks. Wrist fractures are more common during the winter months especially in regions where there is ice, snowfall, and slippery sidewalks.
People who sustain wrist fractures as a result of minor trauma are also at an increased risk for hip fractures as both the fractures are caused by a fall from a standing height. Wrist fractures generally precede hip fractures by about fifteen years. Therefore, serious fractures can be prevented in cases where people have already suffered from wrist fractures and have low bone mass. In women, the number of wrist fractures increases due to rapid loss of bone following menopause. According to national osteoporosis foundation, an estimated 397,000 osteoporosis-related fractures occur each year in the US, making this injury the second most common after vertebral fractures.
Although spine, hip and wrist are considered classical osteoporotic fractures, many other fractures are related to bone density and are also osteoporotic in nature. These include rib, pelvic, shoulder, skull, elbow, neck or ankle fractures.