Fragility fractures: what are they; how to avoid them.

A Fragility Fracture is a fracture caused by a fall from a standing height or less. (Example: fracturing a vertebra because you round you spine as you bend forward or you fracture a wrist by putting your hand out to break a fall) You should always bend from the hips, not round your spine.  And your bones should be strong enough to be able to sustain a fall from a standing position without a fracture. (But if you have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis your bones may be so weak that you do suffer a Fragility Fracture.)

The most common areas for these fractures are the hip, spine or wrist.

There is a second kind of fracture, one that is called a pathologic fracture. This is a bone fracture caused by some disease that leads to weakness of your bone structure.  Osteoporosis is a major cause of pathological fractures but other conditions such as cancer, infection (example: osteomyelitis), an inherited bone disorders, or a bone cyst can also cause pathological fractures. These fractures can happen with a fall or some very significant pressure on your bone.

Preventing fragility fractures

Prevention. There are two main ways to prevent this type of fracture. The first and most obvious it to avoid falling.  But avoiding falls becomes more difficult as we age since we lose about 1% of our natural balance every year after age 35. (This may explain why so many in thier late 70s and older experience a fall.)  

You CAN remedy your natural loss of balance by practicing balance exercises for a  few minutes each day. These exercises are easy. Some of them  can even be practiced  when standing in line or while waiting for someone.  See:  Balance Exercises that prevent falls.

A second way to prevent these fractures is to increase your bone density so that your bones are less likely to fracture if and when you fall.  If you consult a pharmaceutical oriented medical provider s/he is likely to prescribe a pharmaceutical drug that has been developed to either slow the loss of your bone density or stimulate bone growth.  See: Drug treatments for bone loss. 

If you consult a health care provider who has studied natural means of stimulating bone growth or slowing bone loss, that provider is likely to recommend one or more of the natural means of increasing bone density (eg. diet, special herbs, specific exercises) You can read about these methods at: Natural methods to increase bone density and prevent fragility fractures.

If you have experienced such a fracture and would be willing to share your experience or what you have learned from your experience with other readers,  please use the form below.  You may be of help to someone else.  So thanks. (NOTE: If you use the form, please put the words Fragility Fractures at the beginning so I know where to place your comment. Thanks)  

Reader comments

"I am female, aged 63 and am 6'1" tall.  I eat well,(sometimes too well) I drink probably the equivalent of half a bottle of gin per week. I have osteo-arthritis, which has led to 2 new shoulders and a total knee replacement, am now putting the replacement of the second one on hold. I fractured my right wrist as a child (7) - it was a greenstick fracture. 

 Nothing happened fractured bone wise until 2 years ago, when I fell down 4 steps while reading a book and saying, "you should never read a book on the stairs"... Result?  Fractured styloid process - most unusual, not a nice sensible Colles fracture. 

This year, after having a nice new knee fitted - working wonderfully after 5 weeks, I fell over my rise and recline chair leg extension. I know now to put the damn thing down each time I get off it.  I fell awkwardly and fractured my right inferior pubic ramus.  I was about to be sent to the geriatric ward - because it is an old person's fracture - they sent me to the diabetic ward when I kicked up a fuss.  I am over 60 but definitely not in my dotage. 

Nothing could be done I was told, it's a very painful fracture, I was told but nothing could be done apart from manage the pain. I couldn't be sent home - husband was in a different hospital. 

I cannot begin to describe just how painful this fracture is and if it is the case that this is an old person's fracture, may the good lord help them.  I was able to take charge of my own physical care - washing/showering, toileting etc.I was also able to manage my daily care but the pain was never managed successfully. Morphine is horrid and I chucked the codeine in the bin on coming home, some of the nurses gave me one level of codeine, others half this amount.  Bed exercises and physio a couple of times per week.  I came home 5 weeks after the fall and I eventually got back to work on a phased return over 10 weeks later.  Still not 100%, the muscles are taking forever to mend.

I was sent for a Dexa scan and the results are in, though I don't know them yet.  I would bet it is osteoporosis having been diagnosed with osteopenia 10 years ago (nothing was done or said to me at this time other than eat more cheese).  Wonder what I will be told this time...."

Have A Great Story About This Topic?

Do you have a great story about this? Share it!

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)