Fracture risk assessment

A fracture risk assessment is used to calculate your risk of breaking a bone. You may also hear this test being referred to as a FRAXTM test, which is one of the tools doctors can use to complete the assessment. 

You may be referred for a fracture risk assessment if you're over 40, and:

The results of this test help your doctor decide whether you need an osteoporosis medication, to help strengthen your bones and reduce your risk.

How it works

The assessment takes all the different risk factors for broken bones that you may have into account.

Risk factors for broken bones include:

  • Having low bone density
  • Breaking a bone easily
  • Certain medications
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Certain lifestyle choices
  • Your genetics

Osteoporosis risk factors affect your bones in different ways. Some do this by reducing how much bone tissue your body makes and repairs, known as bone density. Others influence how strong your bone tissue is.

Considering all your risk factors together creates a complete picture of your overall bone strength.

What to expect

A fracture risk assessment is in the form of an electronic questionnaire, which is completed by you and your doctor.

It includes questions about:

  • your family history
  • medical conditions
  • previous broken bones
  • your body weight
  • lifestyle factors, such as smoking and alcohol.

The assessment uses your answers to calculate your risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years.

If you haven't already, you may also be referred for a bone density scan, to complete the assessment.

Understanding your results

The result of your assessment is given as a percentage, which shows the probability of you breaking a bone in the next 10 years.

You doctor uses this probability to work out whether you need an osteoporosis medication.

After your assessment

If your risk of breaking a bone is high, you may be prescribed an osteoporosis medication, to help strengthen your bones.

The decision your doctor makes is based on national guidance, and the medications available to treat someone of your age, gender and risk of breaking a bone.

In some cases, you may be advised to make lifestyle changes in the first instance, and invited back for another assessment in the future.