Bone Fractures in Elderly Patients

September 27, 2022
Elderly patients can suffer a bone fracture from a seemingly minor impact, such as falling over after a slip. While such a fall may only cause bruising or a muscle sprain in patients of a younger age, it could lead to a hip or vertebral compression fracture in an elderly patient. The main reason for this is the changes to bone mass caused by osteoporosis, which is common among the over 50s. Indeed, statistics show that worldwide, one elderly person fractures a bone every 3 seconds.

In Thailand, bone fractures in the elderly are an increasingly common phenomenon due to the growing prevalence of elderly people in Thai society, with data gathered by the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council in 2021 showing that Thailand is already classified as an ‘aged society’. This makes Thailand the second nation in ASEAN after Singapore to receive this classification, which is defined by one in every five people in that society being aged 60 and above. Having an aged society means a greater prevalence of underlying health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as an increase in accidents leading to bone fractures. Additionally, treatment for these groups is often more complex than in their younger, healthier counterparts, while there is also a greater chance of them experiencing complications arising from said treatment due to their advanced age.

Elderly patients who experience a broken bone can sometimes be treated as outpatients, such as in cases of hairline wrist fractures or minor vertebral compression fractures. However, there are many other types of bone fracture that require surgical attention, including a broken hip or broken humerus. In the latter cases, highly experienced medical staff must carefully plan the procedure, which not only requires special equipment and expertise, but also a lengthy pre-surgery process to assess the patient’s readiness to undergo the operation itself as well as to navigate post-operation rehabilitation successfully. Generally, such care involves physical therapy to enable that elderly patient to make a rapid return to their daily life in addition to care for their osteoporosis in order to reduce the likelihood of them experiencing a repeat occurrence in the future.
Nevertheless, if it is possible to prevent breakages or strengthen bones for individuals in these groups, it will always be preferable to treatment. Hence, if you would like more information about osteoporosis screening from one of our expert resident doctors, please contact us.

Written by Dr. Surapong Anuraklekha, orthopedic surgeon specializing in treatment for injuries and trauma at Bumrungrad International Hospital.

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