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Fragility Fractures: Why They're Often A First Sign Of Osteoporosis

shoulder_fracture.jpg
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Shoulders, along with hips and wrist, are the most common locations of fragility fractures.

In our consumer health series, Vital Signs: Fragility fractures. Fall from a standing height or less and your body should be able to withstand it without fracturing a bone. When injury does occur, it may mean you have osteoporosis.

Dr. Joseph Borrelli, an orthopaedic surgeon at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and with Texas Health Physicians Group, says a fracture’s often the first sign people have of their bones thinning.

Highlights from Dr. Borrelli’s interview:

Fragility fractures are a significant problem:  “Over two million fragility fractures occur each year in this country alone, more than heart attacks, strokes and new cases of breast cancer combined. The most common areas are the hip (the bone most susceptible to osteoporosis), shoulders and the ankle.”

Why those with a fragility fracture often fall again within one to three years: Because the underlying condition hasn’t been adequately treated (with) nutritional counseling, fall prevention and, of course, the building blocks of good bone, Vitamin D and calcium, and, when indicated, the need for other medication.

Who’s most at risk for osteoporosis:

  • Caucasian women
  • Postmenopausal females
  • Chronically ill patients
  • Those less than 127 pounds
  • Patients with a genetic predisposition to osteoporosis.
  • One in four men is likely to sustain a fragility fracture in their lifetime

For more information:

Facts and FAQs about Fragility Fractures 

The orthopaedic treatment of fragility fractures

What is Osteoporosis?

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.