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Older Women Need to
Watch Their Step

FRIDAY, May 9 (HealthScoutNews) --Foot and ankle fractures are the second most common kind of fractures in older women, second only to spinal fractures.

That's what researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found, who report their study in the May issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

The study, which followed more than 9,700 women, 65 and older, for 10 years, also found the risk factors for foot fractures are different than those for ankle fractures.

Women who suffered foot fractures were generally older, had lower bone density (osteoporosis), were less likely to be physically active, and were more likely to have a previous history of fracture after age 50.

The use of both long- and short-acting sedatives greatly increased the risk of foot fracture in this group of women, the study also found.

Women who suffered ankle fractures were more likely to be overweight, more likely to have fallen within the year before the study, more likely to be physically active, and were slightly younger when they enrolled in the study.

As in previous studies, this study found obesity was highly associated with ankle fractures. Osteoporosis was not identified as a major factor in ankle fractures in this study.

The researchers offer some ways for older women to minimize the risk of foot and ankle fractures:

  • Women who've had one or more fractures after age 50 should have a bone density test to see whether osteoporosis may be a factor.
  • Women should have periodic, routine bone density tests as they grow older.
  • Postmenopausal women who are overweight should discuss a weight-loss program with their doctors.
  • Older women at high risk for foot or ankle fractures should avoid high-impact activities or exercises.
  • They should also wear energy-absorbing shoes, such as walking shoes or well-fitted sneakers.
Here's where you can learn more about protecting your bones.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, May 2003

Copyright 2003 ScoutNews, LLC.
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