Anti aging guide

Fractures and Old Age



What types of fractures are common in old age especially elderly women ?

Three types of fractures are common in old age. The vulnerable sites are the wrists, the hip, and the vertebral bodies of the spine. The peak age of the incidence of each varies site by site, but in all instances women are more seriously affected than men.

Wrist fractures are most common at the time of the menopause. It is at this time that women can become more unsteady-but of course continue to lead active lives and wear unsuitable shoes. They normally try to save themselves when falling by putting out an outstretched hand and thus exposing the wrist to damage. As this protective mechanism declines with increasing age and frailty, the incidence of wrist fracture falls, but that of hip trauma increases.

Hip fractures are important, not only because of the pain and discomfort that they cause, but also because they have an adverse effect on lifespan and independence. Many frail, elderly patients fail to survive their fracture (about 3000 each year) and those that do survive may have a reduced life expectancy. Although surgical techniques of repair have been revolutionized, about half the survivors will have a reduced level of independence after sustaining a fracture. The cost of treatment to the health service is also considerable, even though savings have been made by drastically increasing the speed of recovery and reducing the length of hospital stay. The estimated cost to the NHS in 1988 for fractured neck of femur was £160 million and this is probably a significant underestimate.

Fractures of spinal vertebrae cause pain, loss of height, and curvature of the spine (sometimes known as a dowager’s hump).

Why do old bones break?

The simple reason is because of the combination of more frequent falls in old age and the increased fragility of aging bones. However, the rise in incidence in fractures is greater than can be explained on demographic evidence alone. It would therefore seem that something is unusual about the bones of the current generation of elderly women.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - May 12, 2012 at 9:59 am