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Boning Up to Improve Function after Hip Fracture

Posted on: 12/20/2002
Osteoporosis, a condition of low bone mass, is the most common cause of hip fractures in adults over age 65. Bone becomes thin and weak with fewer bone cells. Osteoporosis can cause fractures in any bone, but fractures in the spine, wrist, and hip are the most common.

Hip fractures can lead to death in 10 to 30 percent of those affected. The good news is that more and more patients are having successful hip fracture repairs. Doctors are now shifting their attention to better function after surgery.

Bone mineral density (BMD) is a test that can measure for osteoporosis. When measured at the femur (top of the thigh bone), it gives a rating for the risk of hip fracture. It can also help predict recovery after fracture. Muscle strength is another measure of recovery after hip fracture.

Doctors aren't sure yet if muscle strength, BMD, and recovery are linked after hip fracture. They do know that femur BMD after hip fracture can't predict how patients will do after undergoing rehabilitation. Change in function doesn't seem to be linked to BMD.

Using BMD measures to prevent fractures from osteoporosis is an important goal in health care. Finding out who may be at high risk of fracture and treating those patients is one step. Preventing disability after fracture is also important. BMD may predict the result after fracture, but not functional recovery after rehab.

Marco Di Monaco, MD, et al. Femur Bone Mineral Density Is Independently Associated With Functional Recovery After Hip Fracture in Elderly Women. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. December 2002. Vol. 83. No. 12. Pp. 1715-1720.

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