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Doc Talk | Geriatric Fractures and how to avoid them

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As the general population in the United States continues to age there are a number of medical issues doctors are seeing more and more of. One of them is fractures.

In 2030, it is expected that roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population will be people age 65 and older.

Right now, doctors are already handling 330,000 hip fractures a year. There are many reasons the elderly break bones easily but there are many things they can do to prevent those breaks.

People often consider the elderly to be more frail and delicate than the rest of the population. But the truth is, these days the elderly are more active than ever.

"Now we're seeing very complicated fractures in the elbows and the knees," explains Dr. Yelena Bogdan, Holy Spirit Chief of Orthopedic Trauma. "We're seeing a lot of older athletes who are sustaining injuries that they wouldn't normally otherwise just because they're doing those activities."

On top of that, Dr. Bogdan says the elderly generally have weaker bones and poorer vision, which leads to falls.

"A lot of them have osteoporosis and osteopenia so they have decreased bone density," explains Dr. Bogdan.

Usually when these breaks happen, Dr. Bogdan says she tries to avoid surgery.

"I'm very conservative," says Dr. Bogan. "I treat a lot of things not operatively with casting and they do very well."

Typically a cast will help a bone to heal in about six weeks. Surgery may be required but it depends on the overall health of the patient and the location and complexity of the break.

Either way, rehab is also usually recommended because mobility helps with healing. And mobility is also good for preventing fractures.

"I think the most important thing is mobility and activity so don't sit in bed, get out there and do as much as you can," says Dr. Bogdan.

Other things you can do at any age to prevent fractures is to keep a healthy diet and weight, don't smoke and keep up with appointments with your primary care doctor. And vitamin D and calcium supplements don't hurt either.

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