You may think you broke a bone because you were clumsy, but your broken bone can be a warning sign of something more serious… osteoporosis. Because you cannot see or feel osteoporosis, the first noticeable symptom may be a fracture.
But first, the actual fracture needs to be treated and the healing process will start. Any broken bone due to poor bone health is considered a medical emergency and typically requires time in a hospital emergency department, admission to hospital for surgery, hospital stay, rehabilitation and home care. The type of care you will receive depends on the sort of fracture you have suffered and how serious the break was.
When a bone is broken, the body initiates a process to repair the break and bring the bone back to function.1
Your doctor will recommend a rehabilitation program to help you recover from a fracture and regain your previous level of function. You may be referred to work with a physiotherapist or other healthcare practitioners to help you in this process. The specific types of treatment and rehabilitation will depend on the type of fracture you have suffered.
If your fracture occured after a minimal trauma, a fall from a standing height or less, this might be a sign of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic fractures occur most commonly in three places – the wrist, spine and hip, but can occur in other places too.
No fracture should be ignored. If you don’t treat your osteoporosis after a fracture, your bones will continue to weaken, putting you at even greater risk of another, potentially life-altering fracture. In fact, if you have had a fracture, your risk of a future fracture increases up to 10 times.2
The first fracture is often the first symptom of osteoporosis. Do you know that two-thirds of people with one or more fracture aren’t investigated or receive treatment to prevent further fractures?3 If you have suffered a broken bone, talk to your doctor about osteoporosis.
As you recover from your broken bone, you may need to make some adjustments to help you cope with everyday life and to stay independent. This might mean being careful to understand any limitations you might have when standing, walking, sitting, bending and lifting. Remember that your family members and carers are there to help you, so ask for help if you need it. Talk to you doctor to see the support options are available in your area, such as a home visit from a care professional.
In addition, make sure to check your home and workplace for trip hazards to reduce your risk of falling.
References – My bone has fractured – What do I do next?
1 WebMD. What happens when you break a bone. webmd.com/first-aid.
2 Lyet J. J Lancaster Gen Hosp 2006;1:91–95.
3 Kung AW, et al. BMC Womens Health 2013;13:7.