Breaking a Bone Reduces Bone Density


New research helps to explain why one broken bone can lead to others breaking.

According to two recent US studies, breaking a bone causes bone density losses throughout the body around the time of the fracture, not just close to the site of the fracture. The discovery has important implications for research into how bone loss can be prevented.

Breaking more bones

It is known that breaking a bone increases the chances of breaking another one somewhere else in the body, but the reasons for this have been unclear.

These studies from teams based at University of California Davis Health are some of the first to begin investigating the mechanisms behind this phenomenon.

Bone loss studies

The first study, published in Osteoporosis International, was based on hip bone mineral density and fracture history data from around 4,000 older women in the US National Institutes of Health Study of Osteoporotic Fractures.

Although hip bone mineral density decreased for all women over the 20-year study period, those who had an upper or lower body fracture lost more bone at the hip than those who did not have a fracture. Bone loss was greatest within the first two years of a bone break.

The second study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, was conducted in mice. It revealed that thigh bone fractures increased bone loss throughout the body, particularly in the spine. Bone loss was greatest within the first two weeks of a fracture.

Therapeutic strategies

These study results suggest that bone loss throughout the body following a fracture increases the risk of future fractures in different areas of the skeleton.

These important initial findings pave the way for future research into the underlying mechanisms of bone loss, which could potentially lead to the discovery of treatments that preserve long-term skeletal health and reduce the risk of subsequent fractures and osteoporosis (which is diagnosed when bone density losses are severe).

Both investigations were led by Blaine Christiansen, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at University of California Davis Health, who next hopes to further explore the inflammatory factors that may contribute to bone loss following a fracture: “It’s possible that these factors are key to initiating bone mineral density loss once a bone is broken. Ultimately, we hope to develop therapeutic strategies that interrupt those processes and prevent bone loss.”


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

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