Hip Stress Fractures – Are You at Risk?

Low bone density makes people over 65 more susceptible to having hip stress fractures. But an increasing number of young people now have weak bones and are at risk due to a poor diet and lifestyle.

The risk of hip stress fractures may increase for a number of reasons. While some of these reasons are out of our control, others can be avoided or at least mitigated. Following are some of the most common factors known to increase the risk of hip stress fractures.

AGE

Age increases the risk of fractures for the following reasons:

  • bone density decreases with age
  • vision and sense of balance often declines
  • reaction time slows
  • muscles weaken as we age and also with inactivity

CHRONIC MEDICAL CONDITIONS

  • Osteoporosis makes our bones more prone to a fracture, even with relatively minor trauma
  • Endocrine disorders (such as hyperthyroidism and gastrointestinal disorders) may interfere with calcium and vitamin D absorption
  • Rheumatoid disorders often lead to inactivity and loss of bone mass.
  • Low levels of sex hormones (testosterone and some forms of estrogen) are associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis affect the nervous system and increase the risk of falling.
  • Decreased mental alertness (dementia and depression) also increase our risk of falling.

SEX

About 80 percent of hip fractures occur in women. The drop in estrogen levels that occurs with menopause accelerates bone loss, increasing the risk of hip fractures as a woman moves beyond menopause.

HEREDITY

A family history of osteoporosis is a strong predictor of low bone mass. A small-boned, slender frame may put you at increased risk of osteoporosis. Also, Caucasians and Asians have the highest risk of osteoporosis.

NUTRITION

  • Lack of calcium and vitamin D in your diet when you are young lowers your peak bone mass and increases your risk of fracture later in life.
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, can permanently damage your skeleton.
  • A high caffeine intake (over three cups a day) may interfere with the absorption of vitamin D and calcium, resulting in decreased bone density.

PHYSICAL INACTIVITY

Prolonged bed rest or immobility can lead to bone loss. Weight-bearing exercises (such as walking) are also needed to strengthen bones and muscles and make falls and fractures less likely.

TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL USE

Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol can interfere with the normal process of bone building and remodeling, resulting in bone loss.

MEDICATIONS

Some medications accelerate bone loss and increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture. Long-term use of medications that may contribute to bone loss include:

  • Corticosteroids-such as prednisone
  • anticonvulsants
  • thyroid medications
  • certain diuretics and blood thinners
  • proton pump inhibitors-used to reduce stomach acid

Some drugs may also cause dizziness and affect your balance. These include some blood pressure medications, sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants, cold and allergy medications, pain relievers and sleep medications.

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

The risk of falling also increases when a person is around loose rugs, cluttered floors, poor lighting, exposed electrical or telephone cords and stairs without handrails.

There are many steps that can be taken both to reduce and mitigate the risk of hip stress fractures. An osteoporosis treatment program that includes a good diet, exercise and the right calcium supplements is one of the best ways of improving bone health and reducing risk.