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Osteoporosis: Complicating Fractures

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Osteoporosis: Complicating Fractures

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osteoporosis

Compare normal bone on left with osteoporotic bone on right

Osteoporosis and low bone mass affect more than 44 million Americans. Four of five of these people are women. When patients with osteoporosis are involved in trauma, they are at high risk for fractures.

Age-related loss of bone mass occurs as early as age 30 and accelerates during the first five years after menopause. About half of all women over the age of 50 and 25% of men over age 50 suffer one or more fractures related to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis complicates the risk of injury from a personal injury incident.

Trauma and Osteoporosis
Patients with osteoporosis may suffer a low trauma fracture (a fracture caused by a fall from a standing height) or fractures during motor vehicle crashes.

Damages
The fractures may result in limited ability to move, increased risk of disease and death, fear of falling, social isolation, depression, pressure sores, pneumonia and death.

Diagnosis
This is a silent disease that can be detected by measuring bone mass. The dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan remains the gold standard for diagnosing osteoporosis. It is used to establish a baseline and to determine how a person is responding to interventions designed to avoid more bone loss. The DXA scan predicts fracture potential by measuring the hip and lumbar spine, the two areas where fractures occur with devastating results.

These conditions interfere with accurate DXA measurements:

  • Spinal implants
  • Vertebral compression
  • Surgical hardware
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease

Prevention
People may reduce the risk of osteoporosis by taking adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium, avoiding smoking, cola drinks and excessive alcohol and by regularly exercising.

Preventing falls is crucial. A medical malpractice suit may result from a fall within a healthcare facility due to

  • Prescribing medications that affect balance and the ability to walk
  • Not recognizing the risk for falls
  • Not providing safety measures to reduce the risk of falls
  • Not correcting environmental hazards
  • A delay in diagnosing a fracture

Med League provides expert witnesses with expertise in evaluating slip and fall cases. Call us for assistance.

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