Opinion

Icy walks

As Jennifer Smith remarks in her article “Please keep your sidewalks clear (The Morning Star, Jan. 20), the snowy, icy roads, walkways and paths are treacherous.

Unfortunately, people fall and fracture (break  bones) almost daily.

When this occurs, the immediate medical priorities are relieving  pain, ordering X-rays to confirm and locate the break, applying  casts or splints and admitting  to hospital for surgery if necessary.

But with our overburdened health care system,   an underlying cause of the fracture may be missed or not followed up.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thin and brittle and can break with very little force. Often called the silent thief, there may be no sign of bone loss until a fracture occurs.

Osteoporosis Canada  estimates that more than 80 per cent of the fractures in men and women over age 50 are due to osteoporosis.

These are alarming statistics, especially for an area like the Okanagan with its aging population. Without timely diagnosis and treatment, one osteoporotic fracture is likely to lead to another.

At  the first break, we need to ask the following questions:  How old are you?  Which bone is involved?  How did the fracture happen?

In particular, a broken wrist, shoulder or upper arm, hip, pelvis, rib, or spinal vertebra – especially if resulting from a simple fall or minor trauma – needs  follow-up and assessment for osteoporosis.  Please consult your health caregiver.

Further information for health care professionals and the general public may be viewed on the Osteoporosis Canada website at  www.osteoporosis.ca.

Together, we can beat the break.

Pat Hodgins, RN, BN,

formerly Nurse Clinician,

Osteoporosis Centre, Calgary

 

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