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Decreased strength 'can increase older women's risk of wrist fractures'

Published on 06 March 2014
Decreased strength 'can increase older women's risk of wrist fractures'

Postmenopausal women could be at an increased risk of suffering wrist fractures if they have a lower level of physical strength.

This is according to a new study carried out by the Seoul National University in South Korea, which aimed to evaluate physical performance level as a potential fall risk factor in women with distal radial fractures - a form of injury to the wrist commonly sustained by falling on an outstretched hand.

It involved 80 postmenopausal women over the age of fifty, 40 of whom had fractured their wrist in this manner, while the remainder consisted of women with other upper extremity conditions on one side of their body, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis or epicondylitis.

Investigators used a variety of balance and strength tests - combined with patient-provided information about walking habits - to evaluate the physical performance and risk of falls for older women with or without previous wrist fractures.

Results published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery revealed that overall physical performance level was no different between women with and without wrist fractures, but differences were revealed in the results of two of the strength tests - grip strength and the chair stand test, which evaluated the ability to rise from a chair.

According to the researchers, this may imply an early subtle decrease in physical performance level in patients with a distal radial fracture, while also underlining the importance of physical activity to orthopaedic health.

Study author and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Hyun Sik Gong said: "Further studies are warranted on whether preventative measures - such as muscle-strengthening exercise - would be helpful for preventing future fall events and fractures in patients with previous distal radial fracture."

Arthritis Research UK is currently funding a clinical trial to find out if alendronate - one of a class of drugs called bisphosphonates, prescribed to people with osteoporosis to reduce bone fragility - negatively affects the healing process in people with osteoporosis who have fractured their wrists.

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