The staggering cost of unlucky breaks

A new report shows the cost of treating brittle bones in Australians aged over 50 is expected to be a staggering $3.1 billion in 2017.

And the total cost is expected to climb to nearly $22 billion by 2022.

But many of those affected were unaware they had osteoporosis and osteopenia, even after they had suffered a fracture, according to Osteoporosis Australia’s report: Osteoporosis: a burden of disease analysis.

The report estimated that by 2022, there would be 191,200 fractures from brittle bones each year, with a heavy impact on patients and their families.

“Breaking a bone is an immediate and ongoing medical emergency. It involves time in hospital, surgery, rehabilitation and often home care,” said Osteoporosis Australia’s Greg Lyubomirsky.

“Australians are being unnecessarily left to endure the pain of repeated fractures, and should regard the new figures as a serious public health warning.

“More often than not, people are sent home after their fracture has been ‘fixed’, and miss out on essential investigation and care which, in many cases, would prevent further fractures.” 

The release of the report coincided with the launch of the SOS Fracture Alliance, Australia’s first national alliance of 30 medical allied health, patient and consumer organisations focusing on the prevention of osteoporotic fractures.

The Alliance strongly advocates the implementation nation-wide of routine services that identify, investigate and treat patients with osteoporotic fractures. These secondary fracture prevention services will integrate all sectors of the health system, in particular, primary care and hospital-based services. 

For further information, visit the website here.

About osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to reduced bone strength and increased risk of fracture.
  • Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose density and quality, leading to weakness of the skeleton.
  • Particular factors place people at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Patients often find out they have osteoporosis after a first fracture.
  • Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, however, fractures most often occur in the hip, spine, arm, wrist, ribs, legs and pelvis. 
  • Fractures are expensive to treat and disruptive to the lives of patients and their families.
  • 22 per cent of people over 50 with poor bone health have osteoporosis.

Risk factors for developing osteopenia are the same as those for developing osteoporosis. They include:

  • Being female, especially after the menopause
  • Being thin and/or having a small frame
  • Getting too little calcium in the diet
  • Smoking
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle
  • A history of anorexia nervosa
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Early menopause 
  • Hysterectomy
  • Various hormone disorders
  • Long-term steroid treatment.

Featured Article