Sports and Recreation

For Your Health: New Studies Link Fractures and Decreased Bone Density


Sports injury. Woman with pain in ankle while joggingTwo new studies show that breaking a bone not only reduces bone density near the fracture site but actually reduces bone density throughout the injured person’s body.

According to Science Daily, the two studies from UC Davis may have finally explained the link between initial and secondary bone fractures. According to Blaine Christiansen, who lead the research for both studies, scientists have long known that people who break their first bone are more likely to sustain fractures in the future, but they have yet to definitively explain why.

The two studies, one on women with hip fractures and one on mice with broken femurs, found surprisingly similar results. After the first break, bone density throughout the body decreased, with greatest losses occurring during the first two weeks of recovery. Bone loss was most significant in the spinal cords, and in both studies, blood tests showed higher numbers of inflammatory markers.

The studies have even greater implications for understanding bone fractures in elderly patients. In the second study, younger mice were eventually able to return to the bone mineral density (BMD) they had before the initial fracture. Older mice, however, were not and sustained a permanently lower BMD.

Though more research needs to be done to understand the exact relationship between fractures and bone density, it is fair to say that protecting your bones from fractures can improve skeletal health overall, especially for elderly individuals. Keeping bones unbroken and whole can prevent further painful breaks and other bone conditions in the future.

To minimize fracture risk, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Exercise
    At any age, getting enough exercise is a crucial step in protecting bone health. Weightlifting and strength training are particularly helpful for growing and maintaining strong bones. Working out also improves balance, which can prevent slips and falls. Ensure all exercise is ability-appropriate, and talk to your doctor before starting a new workout routine.
  2. Fall-Proof Your Home
    For elderly people, falling can lead to serious health risks and can facilitate a dangerous fracture. Help prevent falls by ensuring your home is well-lighted, has few area rugs or ledges to trip over, and is kept clutter-free.
  3. Get your Nutrients
    A good diet is also essential to keeping bones dense and healthy. Ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D and calcium by incorporating fruits, vegetables, fish and dairy into your meals. Sunlight is also a great source of vitamin D.
  4. Visit a Doctor
    Don’t hesitate to ask a health professional about how to protect your bones. If you’ve recently taken a tumble or suspect you might have a bone break, don’t wait to get an X-ray. Four out of five urgent care centers provide fracture care, so there’s no need to waste time waiting to make an appointment at your regular clinic to get an injury examined.

Bone health is essential to long-term wellbeing, especially for elderly individuals. As new studies show, preventing bone fractures is essential to maintaining good bone density and preventing breaks in the future. By following these steps, you can keep your bones and your health intact.

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