The clinically important outcome of osteoporosis, fragility fractures, consumes vast health and social care resources. Conservative estimates suggest the total cost to the UK economy is in excess of £1.9 billion per year for hip fractures alone. For women over 60 years of age, fragility fractures account for more days spent in hospital than many other chronic diseases.
Hip fracture patients occupy more than one in five orthopaedic beds, this equates to 1.8 million bed days in UK hospitals. The incidence of 89,000 a year is predicted to rise to 140,000 by 2036, causing substantial increased morbidity and mortality. Thirty percent of hip fracture sufferers die within 1 year and over 50% remain permanently disabled with an impaired quality of life, compounded by fear of falling.
Vertebral compression fractures are the commonest, often undiagnosed, osteoporotic fractures. Twenty to twenty-five percent of women will sustain a further vertebral fracture within 3 years and endure an increased future fracture risk at other sites. The impacts of vertebral compression fractures are significant, causing chronic back pain, limitation of activity and impaired quality of life.