Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 330–341

Postmenopausal osteoporosis: Fracture consequences and treatment efficacy vary by skeletal site

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF03339858

Cite this article as:
Epstein, S. Aging Clin Exp Res (2000) 12: 330. doi:10.1007/BF03339858


At least half of all postmenopausal women will experience fractures during their lifetime, and the consequences are often serious, but most women at risk are not receiving adequate treatment. The objective of this paper is to summarize the literature concerning the consequences of osteoporotic fractures, and the effectiveness of pharmacologic agents for preventing fractures and their consequences, emphasizing a systematic, evidence-based summary of treatment results from randomized, controlled trials that were published previously. Osteoporosis is associated with increased risk of fractures at most skeletal sites. Hip fractures have much greater prognostic significance in terms of health than any other single type of fracture. However, symptomatic vertebral fractures and other non-hip fractures also represent enormous morbidity and economic burdens, and signal increased risk of future fractures of all types, including the hip. There is convincing evidence that two bisphosphonates (alendronate and risedronate) reduce the risk of both spine and non-spine fractures. The evidence for reducing hip fracture risk is greater for alendronate, with a consistent ∼50% reduction in hip fractures across studies. Alendronate has also been demonstrated to maintain quality of life by reducing outcomes such as hospitalization and bed rest related to back pain. Among other agents, raloxifene reduces the risk of vertebral fractures by approximately 30%; the published evidence for most other agents is inconclusive. Osteoporosis should be regarded as seriously as other important chronic disorders such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Postmenopausal patients with a high risk of fractures — such as those with prior fractures or osteoporosis as measured by BMD — need to be treated. Although other therapeutic modalities are available, the evidence is most convincing for the bisphosphonates, alendronate and risedronate.

Key words

Hip fractures postmenopausal osteoporosis spinal fractures treatment of osteoporosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Internal Publishing Switzerland 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MCP-Hahnemann University School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Roche LaboratoriesNutleyUSA

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