Advice for Providers and Patients: Take Fractures Seriously!

Highlighting the Importance of Fracture Prevention

October 25, 2017

By Sonia Bahroo, PA-C

Fracture prevention is a significant public health issue. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 10 million people in the United States have osteoporosis and another 44 million people have osteopenia. Half of all adults over the age of 50 are at risk for breaking a bone in their lifetime. People who suffer a fragility fracture are at increased risk for repeat fractures.

There are several challenges involved in fracture prevention.  The perception exists that a fracture is not a big deal because broken bones will eventually heal and life will continue as it did before. The costs of treating fractures and the impact of fractures on the healthcare system are enormous and can be avoided if better fracture prevention methods are utilized.

When discussing fracture prevention with patients, it is prudent to keep in mind that patients with osteoporosis may be skeptical to start medicines when many in that age group are starting to take multiple medications. To be absolutely thorough, it is important to go over non-medication interventions to prevent fractures, such as use of canes, walkers, wheelchairs, leg braces, proper footwear, appropriate calcium and Vitamin D intake, exercise, and use of ramps, handrails, etc. Caregivers, when applicable, should be involved in these discussions as they play a vital role in ensuring compliance.

Increasing public awareness about osteoporosis and associated risk of fracture is necessary to facilitate prevention. A key point to note is that fracture is to osteoporosis what myocardial infarction is to cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, most people do not take fractures nearly as seriously. Fragility fractures are not just minor setbacks, but potentially avoidable accidents that can have serious and debilitating long-term health consequences.

For more information, visit PAs in Orthopaedic Surgery at https://paos.org/.

AAPA offers an Orthopaedics CME Bundle online that features 35 AAPA Category 1 CME credits from animal and human bite injuries to tibia fractures.

Sonia Bahroo, PA-C, works for the Division of Endocrinology at George Washington Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, D.C.  Contact Sonia at [email protected].