Osteoporosis and hip fracture are conditions that seem to go hand in hand. Unfortunately, many of us know someone who has had a fall that resulted in a hip fracture.
Later we find out that they also have a history of osteoporosis. In order to understand how these two conditions correlate, it is important to understand osteoporosis.
The Basics of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis can be described by low bone density. Your bones have parts that are porous and resemble a honeycomb. In people with osteoporosis, the spaces in the honeycomb are much bigger and there is less structural support in the honeycomb.
This happens when you lose too much bone mass, make too little bone or both. With low bone mineral density, your bones become weak and are prone to breaking.
As a normal part of body function, our bones are constantly losing old bone material and creating new bone mass. Unfortunately, as you age, you can lose more bone than you form, which leads to weak and brittle bones.
The most common areas of osteoporosis related bone loss is in the wrists, spine and hips. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 54 million Americans have low bone density or this condition.
How Osteoporosis and Hip Fracture are Related
Because individuals with osteoporosis have low bone density and weak bones, they are more likely to break. Broken bones related to osteoporosis are common at the hip. As we age, we are more likely to break a hip, as the rate of falls increases with age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every three adults age 65+ has a fall each year. This means that 33% of older individuals are falling each year. When you have low bone mineral density, then your bones are prone to breaking with even a small amount of stress.
Think about the force placed on your bone if you were to fall right on your hip. You can imagine that the weight of your body would be enough to break the bone. This why these two conditions go hand in hand.
There are strategies you can use to decrease your likelihood of having osteoporosis and hip fracture. In order to improve your bone mineral density, you should walk daily. To reduce your risk of hip fracture, you should actively work on improving your balance and strength to reduce your risk of falls.
Many older adults do not want to talk to their family or healthcare providers about falling, because they are afraid of how they might respond. However, it is important to address the underlying causes that can result in falling to avoid future injuries.
Set up your home for success and avoid environmental hazards that can cause you to fall at home. One of the best ways to prevent a hip fracture related to osteoporosis is to stay up on your feet!