With osteoporosis, forearm fractures occur earlier, scientists say

 A group of healthcare experts from the University of Bergen (UB), Norway, have announced that the presence of osteoporosis increases the likelihood that a mature person will suffer a particular type of wrist fracture.

In a study published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, researchers found that osteoporosis and osteopenia - or bone mineral loss, a condition that often precedes osteoporosis - were significantly associated with distal radial fractures.

A distal radial fracture occurs near the wrist on the radius, one of the two bones that support the forearm. Among more than 660 people who had broken their radius near the wrist, 34 percent of female participants had osteoporosis compared to 10 percent of a control group.

The results were similar though less pronounced for men, 17 percent of whom were osteoporotic compared to 13 percent of controls.

The Norwegian team noted that the occurrence of such a fracture may be useful in diagnosing the beginning stages of osteoporosis.

These results confirm those of dozens of previous studies, which have often cited the fracture as a hallmark of the beginnings of degenerative bone loss.

The researchers wrote that distal radial fractures tend to occur earlier than hip fractures and vertebral pressure fractures, which are the most common types of broken bones associated with the degenerative condition.

An estimated 1.6 million hip fractures occur worldwide every year, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). The organization adds that a white woman has a 50 percent chance of experiencing a vertebral fracture in her lifetime.

Researchers at UB concluded that Americans over the age of 50 who suffer a distal radial fracture should be given bone density tests to check for the presence of bone loss.

Osteoporosis contributes to more than 250,000 wrist fractures every year and should be taken into account when considering treatment options, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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