Around three million people in the UK are affected by osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.
According to figures from the NHS, more than 300,000 people are treated in hospital for fragility fractures every year as a result of osteoporosis. And those who sustain a fragility fracture are at a higher risk for future fractures.
But a new study shows that the risk of subsequent fractures is reduced by 40% for patients treated with anti-osteoporotic therapy, a treatment intended to increase bone mineral density and slow or stop the loss of bone tissue.
Over a three-year period, researchers studied 31,069 patients aged 50+ who had sustained a fragility fracture. Approximately 3,200 patients were put into a treatment group and given anti-osteoporotic therapy for at least six months. Their results were compared with the no-treatment group.
Findings published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery reveal that the anti-osteoporotic therapy group saw a 34% reduction in the risk of hip fracture over three years, and reductions of 43% for spine fracture, 50% for wrist fracture and 52% for upper arm fracture.
“The study highlights the public health benefits for improved prevention of secondary fragility fractures,” said Dr. Harpreet S. Bawa, lead study author and an orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center. “This knowledge can help patients make an informed decision about their treatment options after a first-time fragility fracture.”
Commenting on the research, a spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said: “There are a number of therapies available for people with osteoporosis, which can go a long way to preventing fragility fractures by improving bone quality.
“We also recommend that people with osteoporosis follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly, as this can really help bone density especially as you get older. Specific treatment will depend on your individual circumstances, and you should discuss this with your doctor.”