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Hip Fractures and Osteoporosis

September 15, 2017
Broken bone after 50? Why you should be evaluated for osteoporosis

You tripped over the edge of the rug and broke your wrist. What you may not know is that broken bone could be more than a nuisance. Dr. Jamie Johnston, an orthopaedic surgeon at GBMC talked with Don Scott about why, if you’re 50 years old or older, a low energy fracture like this (which is different from a fracture you might get from the impact of a car accident, for example) could be a clue about your overall bone health and what you should do next.

“Half of women and 25% of men have one of these fragility fractures during their lifetime,” explains Dr. Johnston. “What most people don’t know is that once you’ve had a fracture like this, you’re two to three times more likely to have another fracture, often a hip fracture. The underlying cause is a loss of bone density due to osteoporosis, so my message is if you have this type of fracture, your primary care doctor or an endocrinologist should evaluate you for osteoporosis.”

Dr. Johnston says that preventing hip fractures as people get older is especially important. In fact, 25% of older people who fracture a hip die within a year and 50% never regain the same level of function, often requiring a cane or walker to get around.

What can you do? Start with a DEXA scan to find out if your bone is thinning. If you do have osteoporosis, Dr. Johnston says there are a variety of safe, effective medications available that can slow or stop bone loss or even build new bone. Fall prevention is also important, so get rid of throw rugs, keep electric cords out of walkways, and make sure there’s plenty of light if you need to use the bathroom at night. Even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you can work to make your bones strong and healthy by getting regular weight bearing exercise, quitting smoking, and not drinking too much alcohol.

Dr. Johnston also answered questions about whether men can get osteoporosis, what health conditions may increase your risk of the disease, and why if you’re getting shorter, you should be evaluated for osteoporosis.

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