What are the causes of Falls and Fractures

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 05, 2011
Quick Bites

  • Various medical factors can contribute to falls among seniors.
  • Visual impairment, such as myopia or cataracts can cause a fall.
  • Joint and muscle problems are another culprits.
  • Difficulties in balance, such as in Parkinson’s disease can also be blamed.


If you fall, you could break a bone, like thousands of older men and women do each year. A broken bone might not sound awful. But, for older people, a break can be the start of more serious problems.

If you take care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling. Most of the time, falls and accidents don't "just happen."

Medical Factors that Increase the Chance of a Fall
Medical factors that contribute to falls among seniors include:

  • Visual impairment, such as from myopia or cataracts;
  • Disorders of the nervous system, such as sciatica;
  • Joint and muscle problems, such as occur with arthritis;
  • Difficulties in gait and balance, such as in Parkinson’s disease; and
  • Medications which induce sleepiness.


causes of falls and fractures

Environmental Hazards That Play Major Contributing Roles in Falls

  • Slippery surfaces and uneven flooring;
  • Poor lighting;
  • Tripping obstacles such as loose rugs and pets;
  • Unstable furniture; and
  • Objects left lying on the floor or steps.
  • Preventing Falls and Fractures

These Precautions Can Help Minimize the Risk of Falls:

  • Physical activity to improve strength, mobility and flexibility in seniors;
  • Limiting sleep-inducing medications whenever possible;
  • Appropriate treatment of underlying medical conditions;
  • Environmental modifications such as installing grab bars, removing tripping obstacles, and maintaining sufficient lighting.


causes of falls and fractures


After the Fall

Falls are the most common cause of injuries among senior citizens and the top reason for a hospital admission for trauma. Advanced age substantially increases the likelihood of hospitalization after a fall. Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people aged 65 years or older.

For seniors, fractures are the most serious consequence of falls (short of death). The most common bones to fracture in falls are:

  • The hip, femur (thigh bone), pelvis, and vertebrae (spine);
  • The humerus (upper arm bone), forearm, and hand; and
  • The leg and ankle bones.


Setting Your Own Medical Alarm

You might want to think about getting a home-monitoring system. Usually, you wear a button on a chain around your neck. If you fall or need emergency help, you push the button to alert the service. You can find local “medical alarm” services in your yellow pages. Most medical insurance companies and Medicare do not cover home-monitoring systems. Be sure to ask about costs. Also, you need to be more careful at night to avoid falls. Put night lights and light switches close to your bed. Keep your telephone near your bed.

Image Courtesy: Getty

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