Each year millions of mostly older adults globally will suffer a devastating hip fracture after a fall. Millions more will suffer fractures of the wrist, spine, shoulder or pelvis. The most likely underlying cause for these fractures is osteoporosis.
Although no local osteoporosis statistics for South Africa exist, extrapolated data show that up to 60 000 hip fractures may occur in South Africa every year! Up to 20% of patients die within the first year after a hip fracture and more than 50% of the rest will never function independently again.
The theme for World Osteoporosis Day this year is “Capture the fracture” and the message is to capture the first fracture of osteoporosis patients and start treating their osteoporosis immediately to avoid the next fracture.
An individual who has suffered an osteoporotic fracture is twice as likely to fracture again if no diagnosis of osteoporosis has been made and adequate treatment provided.
Approximately half of all people who have had an osteoporotic fracture will have another with the risk of additional fractures increasing with each broken bone.
One in four women who have a new spine fracture will fracture again within one year.
Almost half of the patients who are treated in hospital for a hip fracture have had a previous fracture of some kind.
The first fracture is usually a warning sign and should result in immediate screening and if indicated, management and treatment for osteoporosis.
Sadly, most hospitals, clinics and doctors fail to capture the first fracture and many patients are left to a future of suffering and debility. Over 80% of fracture patients are never offered screening and/or treatment for osteoporosis, despite the fact that there are effective medications that can reduce fracture risk by as much as 30-70%.
A patients story
Dr Mari Bosman has been a counselling psychologist since 1985 and is only 52 years old. In May 2011 she lifted her ageing mother in bed and fractured a vertebra. She suffered so much pain that she had to close her psychology practise in November 2011.
In August 2012 she fell in her bedroom and suffered extreme pain. No x-rays of her pelvic region or leg were taken. 2 Weeks after this incident, whilst still suffering extreme pain, x-rays were at last taken and it showed that she fractured her right femur which required immediate surgery to fit a pin.
Due to unfortunate circumstances and the fact that she cannot work, the family has no Medical Aid and she cannot afford the proper medication. There is still outstanding hospital and medical expenses of R60 000-00 and a Trust Fund has been established to help them pay their medical costs.
She is currently on no active treatment to manage her osteoporosis. Had she received immediate treatment for the osteoporosis, it may have prevented the second fracture 18 months later. Mari Bosman is one of thousands of patients with the same problem.
(Press release, October 2012)
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