Fracture Types & How They Can Impact You

Osteoporotic fractures occur most commonly in three places – the wrist, spine and hip1

Sometimes a wrist fracture is more than it seems – it can be the first warning sign that you have osteoporosis. It is important to recognise that it is not normal to break a bone after a fall from standing height. A fracture in one of these three places can affect your independence differently. Let’s look at what these fractures might mean for you.


Wrist fracture

  • A Colles’ fracture is a break of one of the wrist bones, and is very commonly seen with minimal trauma fractures. It tends to occur when someone puts out their hand as they fall over. Wrist fractures generally need a cast for about six weeks while the bone repairs.2

  • Approximately 30% of women with a wrist fracture suffer another broken bone within 5 years.3 Left untreated, you could have another more serious fracture.

Spine fracture

  • Pain from a vertebral fractures can last anywhere up to eight weeks and should lessen as the bones begin to mend.2 But pain is not the only symptom of a spinal fracture. These types of fractures can result in height loss or the spine changing shape. A curved back (sometimes called a dowager’s hump) or height loss of more than 3cm is a sign that you might have a vertebral fracture.4

  • According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, two thirds of spinal fractures are not identified or treated.4 It is important to be aware of your bone health and understand that chronic back pain, height loss or changes to the shape of their spine are not always due to ‘old age’. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should follow up with your doctor.

Hip fracture

  • Hip fractures can be particularly disabling and need lengthy recovery periods both in and out of hospital.2

  • These types of fractures are linked to chronic pain, and both a reduction in mobility and personal independence. Up to 25% of patients die in the first year following a hip fracture, and less than half of those who survive regain their previous level of function and independence.5

  • Rehabilitation is an essential part of recovery. People who do intensive resistance exercise for six to 12 months after surgery have greatly improved ability to get up, walk, climb stairs and do household tasks than those who do not.2

A fracture is more than just an accident

A broken bone or consistent back pain can mean more than you think, and should be investigated properly. If you are over the age of 50, and have had a broken bone after a minimal trauma such as a fall from a standing height – remember, it is always a good idea to follow up with your doctor.



References – Fracture types & how they can impact you

1 Sambrook P, et al. Lancet 2006;367:2010–18.

2 Healthy Bones Australia. Breaking a bone and bone health. 2020.

3 Balasubramanian A, et al. Osteoporos Int 2019;30:79–92.

4 International Osteoporosis Foundation. Spot the signs of a breaking spine. 2018.

5 International Osteoporosis Foundation. The Asia-Pacific regional audit. Epidemiology, costs & burden of osteoporosis in 2013.