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Older women who experience arm fractures more likely break their hip

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Older women that experience upper arm fractures are more than five times more likely to break their hip in the following year, finds a US study.

Research has already shown there is a link between the two injuries but a team from the University of Washington in Seattle wanted to determine when the risk was greatest.

They followed up 8,047 women for an average of 10 years, of which 321 fractured their upper arm and 44 of them went on to have a hip fracture.

The risk of hip fracture after fracturing the upper arm was highest a year after this first injury but this link was not significant after the first year, the authors said.

The findings will hopefully prompt clinical staff to carry out effective interventions during the period of greatest risk, said Dr Jeremiah Clinton, an orthopaedic surgeon and one of the study authors.

Both fractures may stem from similar reactions to a fall, he said, as when people age their reflexes get slower and they tend to ‘tuck and roll’ when they trip rather than trying to catch themselves, as younger people do. ‘This causes greater force on the shoulder and hip,’ the authors said.

Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (2009) 91: 503-11

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