Variation in care across the UK means that in two thirds of the country there are no clinics specifically designed to prevent breaks, which goes against the recommendations set out by official guidelines.
As a result of this many patients with bone thinning are at risk of going unnoticed, running the even greater risk of a potentially fatal second break.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which has just carried out a national audit of the problem, describes the disease as a “public health catastrophe”.
Around 76,000 Britons suffer from hip fracture, the most common break, each year. Of these patients a staggering one in ten dies within a month, and 50% never regain their independence. Despite these worrying figures, only one in three local health trusts run fracture liaison services to act on the first “warning” break and help prevent it happening again, according to the RCP audit of 10,000 people.
Many believe that a preventative approach to the diseases should be adopted, with better uses of interventions to reduce the risk of falling and medications and supplements to cut the risk of fractures. It is thought that these actions would lead to around 4,500 fewer hip fractures in the UK each year.
The audit shows that half a million people are injured in falls each year, with a further 200,000 patients breaking a bone as a consequence of osteoporosis, resulting in the need for emergency treatment.
Despite two sets of national guidelines in 2008 and 2009 recommending follow up assessments of patients, many hospitals fail to provide them, according to Dr Treml of the RCP.
Michelle Mitchell, director of the charity Age UK said “when an older person suffers a fracture, there should be a clear system in place to help them avoid future falls and maintain good bone health”.
Regular calcium consumption is vital for the maintenance of healthy bones. The National Osteoporosis Society recommends 800mg of Calcium per day, in addition to weight-bearing exercises to help protect and strengthen the skeleton.
Last updated: 02-11-2011
In line with their 25th anniversary the National Osteoporosis Society have launched a 25,000 mile walk, sponsored by Biocalth Calcium L-Threonate Supplements, to raise money for the cause as well as encourage people to walk more, an activity that can help to encourage new bone growth.