Young People Get Osteoporosis Too 

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What is a fragility fracture?

A fragility fracture is one that results from mechanical forces that would not ordinarily cause fracture in a healthy young adult. This is sometimes quantified as forces equivalent to a fall from a standing height or less.

Fragility fractures are strong predictors of future fracture since they reflect poor bone quality. Women who have had vertebral or non-spine fractures have an increased risk of future vertebral fractures independent of bone mineral density (BMD) (1, 2). Thus, women and men with vertebral fractures not resulting from major trauma should be considered to have osteoporosis or osteomalacia regardless of their BMD.

The following three statements are associated with fractures or breaks related to low bone mass or osteoporosis.

  • The most common sites for fragility fractures (broken bone) are in your wrist, shoulder, back or hip.
  • This type of break results from minimal trauma or stress like when you had a fall from standing height or less that caused you to break a bone (even if you seemed to fall down hard)
  • You are most likely to have thinning bones that result in this type of break if you are over 50 years old.

The Facts About Fragility Fractures (Broken Bones) and Osteoporosis:

  • More than 50% of the broken bones in men over 50 and women over 40 years of age are the result of thinning bones related to osteoporosis (Latin for porous bones). It can be distressing to learn that your bones are not as strong as they could or should be, however this could be your chance to stop bone loss. What you learn and do about bone health now is the key to building up your bones to prevent future fractures or broken bones. The disease is often called the silent thief because there are no symptoms of bone loss until the first break (fracture) happens.

Fragility Fracture

  • A fracture resulting from a fall from standing height or less - WHO* 1999
  • Patients who sustain a first fracture have a five-fold chance for future fractures despite the cause
  • Identification of fragility fractures of the wrist, spine, proximal humerus and hip is the first step to treatment
  • After you have had one fracture you are up to five times more likely to have another broken bone than someone who has never had a broken bone or fracture. This is new information learned in osteoporosis research. 
  • Even if your bone density measurement is normal you need to be concerned about bone health if you have broken a bone with minimal trauma like after a fall from standing height or lifting a bag of groceries because bones can be brittle and need treatment even when bone density is near normal
  • The interval between the first break (like your wrist) and a hip fracture can be up to 25 years
  • Hip fractures are the most personally devastating break and more than 1 in 5 people who have a hip fracture will die in the first year after the hip fracture. For those who survive a hip fracture, more than 1 in 4 (25%) require some long-term nursing care and lose some mobility and independence.
  • A survey of women over 75 showed that 80% would rather be dead than experience the loss of independence and quality of life that results from a hip fracture that leads to admission to long term care
  • Hip fractures are the most common injury from falls in the elderly
  • The first fall can create a cycle that leads to other falls unless the cycle is broken. What that means is that a first fall may increase the fear of falling again which leads to decreased activity and a loss of strength and mobility which in turn increases the risk of falling.



Young People Get Osteoporosis Too Organization
Copyright 2001  All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/11/08.