Fragility fractures

Fractures that occur because of reduced bone strength are described as ‘fragility fractures’ and many of these will be caused by osteoporosis. 

Fragility fractures consume vast health and social care resources. The number of incident fractures predicted in 2025, taking into account demographic projections, has been estimated at 682,000 in the UK. This represents an increase of 146,000 fractures from current levels. Hip, clinical vertebral (spine), forearm and other fractures have been predicted to increase by an estimated 23,000, 18,000, 15,900 and 89,300 (Svedbom 2013). Moreover, people with one or more long-term conditions, such as osteoporosis, account for around 70% of all hospital admissions and 70% of total NHS spending (Department of Health 2012).

“In the UK, an estimated 500,000 new fragility fractures arise each year, comprising approximately 79,000 hip fractures, 66,000 vertebral fractures, 69,000 forearm fractures and 322,000 other fractures” (Svedbom 2013). 


Wrist fractures

A broken wrist can be the first indication that someone has osteoporosis. Wrist fractures in women often occur soon after the menopause and typically occur following a fall. Healthy bones should be able to withstand a simple fall so a broken bone in these circumstances, without any other disease, is an indication that there may be underlying osteoporosis. 


Hip fractures

The National Hip Fracture Database annual report (2016) states that hip fractures take up £1.5 million worth of bed days (England, Wales and Northern Ireland only). It is estimated that the cost to hospital services of incident hip fracture is £1.13 billion (Impact of hip fracture on hospital care costs: a population-based study, by Leal et al)

"1 in 4 people (28.7%) die within a year of suffering a hip fracture” (Neuburger, et al 2015).


Vertebral fractures

There are currently 66,000 vertebral fractures each year and these are often undiagnosed. Vertebral fractures are the most common osteoporotic fracture. Studies suggest that 12% of older women have vertebral deformities, the majority of which will be osteoporotic in origin - increasing with age to 20% (women over 80 years of age). The impact of vertebral compression fractures is significant, causing chronic back pain, limitation of activity and impaired quality of life. 58% of people who have experienced spinal fractures are in long-term pain which they don't think will ever go away (NOS Life with Osteoporosis, the Untold Story). 

“50 – 70% of vertebral fractures are undiagnosed." (NICE TA161 2008).

For further information on vertebral fracture identification, see the NOS Vertebral Fractures Guidance


More information for you and your patients

Download our leaflets, posters and factsheets to share with your patients. Including 'My hip fracture care: 12 questions to ask' and 'Living with fractures caused by osteoporosis'. 

Free publications to order and download

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