Monday, December 3, 2012

Fall Prevention - The Best Fracture Treatment is Prevention of the Fracture

The vast majority of fractures in our elderly population are due to falls.  The data is remarkable.  One out of three people over age 65 have a significant fall each year.  One of two women over age 50 will sustain an osteoporosis (weak bone) related fracture each year – many of those due to a fall.
We often say that orthopaedic injuries and fractures don’t happen in a vacuum.  We mean that there is much behind the source of the fracture and the fracture is simply the end result.  Simply focusing on the fracture and it’s repair and healing process isn’t enough.

So, let’s talk about how we prevent falls and fractures, specifically in our older population. 
The first step is to move!  The more we safely move and exercise the more we improve and maintain our muscle tone, balance, and bone strength.  If we don’t move an ugly cycle of deconditioning develops that leads us toward the path of a fall and fracture.  Simply walking with friends or family 10 – 20 minutes a day is a good start.  Other options are working with a fitness instructor at your local gym or starting water aerobics.

The second and third steps have to do with standard check-ups with your health care providers.  Making sure that your regular doctor has an opportunity to review your medications will help limit side effects such as sedation, low blood pressure, or low blood sugar that might lead to a fall.  In addition, an eye exam will ensure that a change in your vision isn’t the culprit that causes you to miss the edge of the rug or a step that throws you off balance.

Lastly, removing things, like the rug mentioned above, that increase your risk of a fall, will greatly reduce your chance of falling and breaking a bone.  Go through your living area and remove trip hazards like rugs, boxes on the floor, etc.  Other simple adjustments like moving medicines and other important items to lower areas that don’t require a stool to reach them may save a trip to the emergency room.

St. Peters Bone and Joint looks forward to meeting you and helping you through your orthopaedic problems.  However, if we don’t see you because you saved yourself from a fall, we’ll gladly wish you the best as you keep moving toward your daily goals.

Please click here to see the fall prevention brochure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that further highlights the four ways to prevent falls discussed above.

Written by Dane Glueck, MD