What are Fragility Fractures?
Fragility fractures are bone fractures that occur as a result of a minor fall or trauma, such as a fall from standing height. These types of fractures are commonly associated with osteoporosis, a condition that weakens the bones and makes them more prone to fractures. Fragility fractures can occur in any bone, but they most commonly affect the hip, spine, and wrist.
What Causes Fragility Fractures?
Fragility fractures are most commonly caused by osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Osteoporosis can develop as a result of several factors, including age, gender, family history, low calcium and vitamin D intake, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain medications. In addition to osteoporosis, other factors that can increase the risk of fragility fractures include a history of previous fractures, low body weight, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Who is at Risk for Fragility Fractures?
Fragility fractures are most common in older adults, especially women who have gone through menopause. Other factors that increase the risk of fragility fractures include:
- Low bone mineral density
- History of previous fractures
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Low calcium and vitamin D intake
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Certain medications, such as glucocorticoids
What are the Symptoms of Fragility Fractures?
The symptoms of fragility fractures can vary depending on the location and severity of the fracture. Common symptoms include:
- Pain and swelling at the site of the fracture
- Limited mobility or difficulty moving the affected limb
- Bruising or discoloration
- Deformity of the affected limb
- Numbness or tingling in the affected limb
- Back pain (in the case of spinal fractures)
How are Fragility Fractures Diagnosed?
To diagnose a fragility fracture, your doctor will perform a physical examination and may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or bone scans. These tests can help identify the location and severity of the fracture, as well as any underlying bone conditions, such as osteoporosis.
How are Fragility Fractures Treated?
The treatment for fragility fractures typically depends on the location and severity of the fracture, as well as any underlying bone conditions. Treatment options may include:
- Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain medications or prescription pain relievers may be used to manage pain and discomfort.
- Immobilization: In some cases, a cast or brace may be used to immobilize the affected limb and allow the fracture to heal.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or stabilize the fracture, especially in the case of hip or spine fractures.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended to help improve mobility and prevent future fractures.
- Osteoporosis Treatment: If the fracture is caused by osteoporosis, medications may be prescribed to improve bone density and reduce the risk of future fractures.
- Lifestyle Changes: regular exercise, a healthy diet, and quitting smoking, can help reduce the risk of future fractures.