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Study finds wrist fractures may predict higher risk for more serious future fractures

For postmenopausal women, a wrist fracture may predict higher risk of more serious fractures in the future, a new study found.

A team of U.S. researchers used data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study to look at the risk of future fractures in women who had experienced a wrist fracture, compared to women who had not. They used information collected on 160,930 women who were aged 50 to 79 at the start of the study period.

The researchers established that there were 8,792 wrist fractures during the 12-year study period. They then compared non-wrist fractures in that group with the rest of the women in the study, who had not fractured a wrist.

The results showed a 40 per cent higher risk for experiencing another fracture in the women who had already fractured a wrist, compared to those with no history of wrist fracture. Almost one in five of the women with a wrist fracture experienced a another fracture later on. Fracture risks were higher in this group even when the researchers accounted for factors such as bone mineral density, treatment for osteoporosis or use of hormone therapy.

The wrist fracture group had significantly higher risk for every type of fracture measured:

  • 48 per cent higher risk of spine fracture
  • 78 per cent higher risk of upper arm fracture
  • 50 per cent higher risk of hip fracture
  • 36 per cent higher risk of having a foot, knee or leg fracture
  • 88 per cent higher risk of having any upper extremity fracture (shoulder, elbow, hand, upper arm)

These results suggest that wrist fractures in postmenopausal women may be a predictor of future fracture risk. Wrist fractures may provide an opportunity for bone testing or for taking action to prevent future fractures.

The study, which was led by Dr. Carolyn Crandall at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, was published in the November, 2015 issues of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital