Fragility Fracture

New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Fragility Fracture Program mobilizes experts in every facet of the treatment and prevention of fragility fractures. Our goal is to help patients regain function, avoid future fractures, and maximize their quality of life.

Comprehensive Care for Maximum Recovery

A fragility fracture is a fracture resulting from a fall from standing height or less. These fractures, which most commonly occur at the hip, spine, or wrist, are an indication that the body’s bones have been weakened by an underlying illness.   

Roughly half of all women and up to one-quarter of all men will suffer a fragility fracture in their lifetime. People who have had a previous fragility fracture are twice as likely to suffer a fracture in the future. Especially in elderly patients, fragility fractures can lead to increased risk of mental and physical problems and a significant decrease in mobility and quality of life. Some fragility fractures can have a mortality rate as high as 33 percent within the first year.

After a fracture, it is essential that patients be prepared as quickly as possible for surgical intervention. Once the fracture has been managed, the immediate next step should be planning to prevent future fractures.

The UT Southwestern Fragility Fracture Program includes a team that specializes in handling treatment, prevention, and ongoing medical management of the complex conditions that often accompany these fractures. These multidisciplinary experts include internists, geriatricians, endocrinologists, anesthesiologists, and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons. We also offer consultations for physicians in our community.

Diagnosis

Our specialists conduct a careful screening to determine the underlying cause of a fragility fracture.

The most common cause of fragility fractures is osteoporosis, but other causes include:

Our comprehensive evaluation might include laboratory testing of a patient’s vitamin D, calcium, and parathyroid and thyroid hormone levels, all of which can affect bone fragility. Other tests might be ordered as well, based on each individual patient’s needs.

Treatment

Treatment for fragility fractures includes:

  • Treatment for the fracture itself
  • Management of the underlying illness
  • Treatment of any complications that arise from the fracture

UT Southwestern surgeons and rehabilitation specialists prioritize rapid stabilization of the fracture to help patients regain as much function as possible, as quickly as possible. This treatment usually includes:

  • Surgery, sometimes including joint replacement
  • Preoperative assessment and acute regional anesthesia provided by our anesthesiologists
  • Expedited physical and occupational rehabilitation
  • Postoperative pain services

Medical treatment can help manage the underlying causes of a patient’s bone fragility, improve bone stability, and prevent future fractures. Medical therapies might include:

  • Bisphosphonates
  • Calcium supplementation
  • Vitamin D supplementation
  • Nutritional support

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