Preventing Fractures: What Rules Women Need To Know

preventing fractures

Fractures are dangerous for people of all ages. Children, older people as well as adults need to be cautious to avoid the risk of fractures. You know preventing fractures is better than cure.  Fractures are more likely to occur in children and adults due to a fall, injury, or accident. 

However, the risk is substantially higher in women, particularly after menopause. While in adult men and children a fracture can occur after a serious injury, in menopausal women it can occur even after a minor trauma or a missed step.

This is why women need to be aware of their risk of fractures and the best ways to avoid breaking a bone.

How can women avoid the risk of fractures after menopause?

Here are some tips for preventing fractures that you should follow:

Avoid a missed step or fall 

Loss of footing or balance is a common cause of falls. The loss of footing may occur when there is reduced contact of your foot with the floor. Loss of traction can occur when your feet slip on a slippery wet floor.

Due to slowing reflexes, the tendency to fall, or miss a step, can increase as you age. As your age increases, there is a decline in the ability of your nervous system to send quick responses to balance yourself after a missed step. [1

This is why women above the age of 50 years are more prone to fall or fractures. Here are some strategies you can adopt to avoid a fall. [2] [3]

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  • Improve balance by performing muscle-strengthening exercises.
  • Visit an ophthalmologist to correct your eyesight
  • Practice balance exercises
  • Be aware of medications that can cause dizziness and increase the risk of falling such as diuretics, blood pressure medications, and muscle relaxants 

The direction and force of a fall

The force of a fall or how hard a person lands can determine the risk of fracture. The greater the distance of your hip bone from the floor, the higher the risk of hip fracture. 

Taller women appear to have a higher risk of fractures when they fall. Falling straight down or sideways is riskier compared to falling backward. [4]

While it may not be possible for you to control the direction of your fall within a fraction of second, you can definitely avoid trying to fall too hard. It has been found that when women are made aware that changing the direction of a fall could reduce their risk of fractures, it really does work when the need arises. People are sometimes able to change the direction of fall if they have knowledge of how to fall.

Bone fragility

The most important aspect of the risk of fractures in women is linked to hormonal imbalances. As women enter menopause, the secretion of female reproductive hormones like estrogen begins to decline. Estrogens play a vital role in regulating the absorption of calcium and vitamin D in the body. 

When the supply of these nutrients to the bones is reduced after menopause, the bones begin to become porous and weak. This marks the beginning of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by the reduced bone mineral density. [5]

As the bones become less dense, they lose their ability to sustain themselves in the event of a fall. If left untreated, osteoporosis can progress to the point even minor trauma or a missed step can cause the bones to break. The loss of reflexes makes matters worse. [6]

Menopausal and postmenopausal women need to maintain their bone health.  

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Regular assessment of bone health through bone mineral density tests is an efficient way to detect osteoporosis at an early stage. Women also need to be aware of a condition called osteopenia that is a precursor to osteoporosis. 

Osteopenia occurs when there is a loss of bone mineral density to a lesser extent compared to osteoporosis. Detecting the loss of bone mineral density at this stage could help women take appropriate treatment and prevent the further loss of bone density as it occurs in osteoporosis. [7]

Since the risk of fractures in women is linked primarily to osteopenia and osteoporosis, you need to be aware of how to prevent these disorders. 

What can women do to prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis?

  • Consume adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium [8]
  • Exercise regularly to improve muscles strength 
  • Perform bone mineral density tests regularly 
  • Avoid using medications that can promote bone loss 
  • Use medications and supplements that can improve bone mineral density and minimize bone loss

Here are some more effective strategies women can adopt for preventing fractures

  • Keep your house free of clutter
  • Avoid walking around at home in socks or backless slippers
  • Keep telephone and electrical wires and cords out of walkways at home
  • Install grab bars on staircases, bathroom walls, and beside tubs and showers
  • Improve lighting arrangements at your home to ensure optimum visibility
  • Use a cane or walker for added stability
  • Wear shoes with rubber soles to ensure optimum traction against the floor 
  • Avoid walking on a highly polished marble surface and tiles that can be slippery
  • Use a backpack or a shoulder bag to leave your hands free while walking to allow yourself to maintain balance 
  • Remember that falling straight down or sideways is more likely to cause a hip fracture.  If possible, try to land on your buttocks. [9]
  • If possible, use objects or handles around you to break the fall or land on your hands. [10]

Conclusion

Being aware of why you could be at a higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures is the first step you can take towards improving your bone health. Taking precautions to avoid falls or injuries would definitely help you preventing fractures. 

The use of calcium and vitamin D could further reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures by making your bones denser and stronger. The comprehensive management of osteoporosis forms the crux of preventing fractures.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1126451/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23287836/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19533480/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793090/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4414067/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6059859/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1888612/
  8. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/fracture/preventing-falls-and-related-fractures#chart
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8227898/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12854837/

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