Study determines which fractures are caused most often by osteoporosis

Although healthcare experts often cite long arm and leg bone fractures as those most likely to be caused by osteoporosis, new research has indicated that this may not be the case.

A review of medical literature conducted by clinicians at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, has determined that femoral-neck hip fractures and broken vertebrae may be the best indicators that an individual is suffering from progressive bone loss.

The "femoral neck" refers to the area of bone just below the hip's ball joint.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, said that while fractures of the femur, humerus and forearm bones may still correctly be associated with an increased likelihood of osteoporosis, breaks of the vertebrae and femoral neck are most strongly linked to the presence of the disease.

These fractures are not always caused by severe trauma, the team added, and often occur from relatively minor falls or even the weight of the body on the bones. In cases of severe osteoporosis, vertebral cracks may be considered "pressure fractures," caused by little more than one's body mass.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 9 million new osteoporotic fractures each year, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). Of these injuries, 1.6 million occur at the hip, 1.7 million at the forearm and 1.4 million within the spine.

To reduce the risk of fracture caused by bone loss, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends consuming daily supplements of vitamin D and calcium, as well as getting moderate exercise at least three times a week.

The Institute explains that exercise has been proven to increase bone mass and improve balance and coordination.

Even a moderate reduction in bone density can dramatically increase the likelihood of fractures. The IOF warns that a 10 percent loss of bone mass in the vertebrae can double the risk of vertebral fractures. The same loss of bone in the hips boosts the risk of hip fracture two and a half times.
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