Osteoporosis is a condition that affects millions of Australians, particularly women over the age of 50. At Action Rehab we often treat patients with wrist fractures resulting from osteoporosis. In this article, we’ll explore the connection between wrist fractures and osteoporosis, as well as preventative measures and treatment options.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition characterised by the progressive loss of bone mass and density, leading to weakened bones that are more susceptible to fractures. It is particularly common in women over 50, as hormonal changes during menopause can accelerate bone loss. By age 65, nearly half of all women will have experienced at least one osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.
How Does Osteoporosis Increase the Risk of Wrist Fractures?
There are several reasons why osteoporosis increases the risk of wrist fractures. First, weakened bones are more prone to breaking. When bone density decreases, even minor falls or traumas can result in fractures. The wrist is one of the most common sites for fractures due to its complex structure and frequent use in daily activities.
Second, osteoporosis can lead to changes in posture and balance. As the spine loses bone mass, it can develop a stooped posture, resulting in an increased risk of falling. Falls are a leading cause of wrist fractures in older adults, particularly those with osteoporosis.
Finally, osteoporosis can cause a decrease in muscle strength, which can contribute to falls and further enhance the likelihood of wrist fractures.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Wrist Fractures in People with Osteoporosis?
Several strategies can help prevent wrist fractures in individuals with osteoporosis.
- Early Diagnosis: Early detection of osteoporosis through bone density testing is crucial for implementing appropriate preventative measures. This can be arranged by a health professional or your local GP.
- Medication and Supplements: Medications and supplements, such as calcium and vitamin D, can help maintain strong bones and slow the progression of osteoporosis. Consult your healthcare professional for advice on the appropriate treatment options.
- Exercise: Regular weight-bearing and resistance exercises can help strengthen bones and improve balance and posture. Our clinic offers exercise therapy and clinical Pilates designed to help slow the progression of osteoporosis.
- Fall Prevention: Ensuring a safe home environment, with adequate lighting, handrails, and non-slip mats, can reduce the risk of falls and subsequent wrist fractures.
How Can Physiotherapy Help Those with Osteoporosis-Related Wrist Fractures?
Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing wrist fractures resulting from osteoporosis. A tailored physiotherapy program can help manage pain, improve function and mobility in the affected wrist, and address balance or posture issues. Some common treatment options include:
- Pain Management: Physiotherapists can provide pain relief strategies, such as gentle joint mobilisation, soft tissue work, and taping techniques.
- Custom-made Thermoplastic Cast or Orthosis: At Action Rehab, our Hand Therapists create waterproof, lightweight, and supportive custom-made thermoplastic “casts” or orthoses. These are designed to provide circumferential support and can be made to prevent removal, ensuring optimal healing and immobilisation during the recovery process.
- Strength and Mobility: A customised exercise program, including strengthening exercises for the wrist and resistance training, can help patients regain function and mobility in the affected wrist.
- Balance and Posture: Physiotherapists can also address any balance or posture issues, providing targeted exercises to improve stability and reduce the risk of future falls.
- Education and Support: Physiotherapists offer support and guidance to help patients understand their condition and empower them to manage their osteoporosis. This includes information on the importance of medication adherence, nutrition, and fall prevention.
In summary, osteoporosis is a common condition that increases the risk of wrist fractures, particularly in women over 50. Early diagnosis, preventative measures, and physiotherapy treatment can help minimise the impact of this condition on patients’ lives.
If you have concerns about osteoporosis and wrist fractures, consult a health professional or visit our clinic, Action Rehab, to get started toward better bone health.