Incident fracture is associated with a period of accelerated loss of hip BMD: the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures



Bone loss following a fracture could increase the risk of future fractures. In this study, we found that elderly women who had an upper body fracture or multiple fractures lost more bone at the hip than those who did not fracture. This suggests a possible systemic bone loss response initiated by fracture.


A prior fracture is one of the strongest predictors of subsequent fracture risk, but the etiology of this phenomenon remains unclear. Systemic bone loss post-fracture could contribute to increased risk of subsequent fractures. Therefore, in this study, we investigated whether incident fractures, including those distant to the hip, are associated with accelerated loss of hip bone mineral density (BMD) in elderly women.


We analyzed data from 3956 Caucasian women aged ≥ 65 years who were enrolled in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures and completed hip BMD measurements at study visit 4 (year 6) and visit 6 (year 10). Clinical fractures between visits 4 and 6 were ascertained from triannual questionnaires and centrally adjudicated by review of community radiographic reports. Subjects provided questionnaire information and clinical variables at examinations for known and potential covariates. Generalized linear models were used to calculate average annual percent change in total hip BMD between visits 4 and 6 for each incident fracture type and for upper body and lower body fractures combined. A subset of women (n = 3783) was analyzed for annual total hip BMD change between study visits 4 and 5 and between study visits 5 and 6 to evaluate change in total hip BMD during these 2-year intervals.


Women with incident upper body fracture or incident lower body fracture exhibited reductions in total hip BMD of 0.89 and 0.77% per year, respectively, while women who did not fracture exhibited reductions in total hip BMD of 0.66% per year during the 4-year period. Accelerated loss of hip BMD was isolated to the 2-year time interval that included the fracture. Loss of total hip BMD was not affected by the number of days from fracture to follow up DXA.


Systemic bone loss following fracture may increase the risk of future fractures at all skeletal sites. There is a need for improved understanding of mechanisms leading to apparent accelerated bone loss following a fracture in order to reduce subsequent fracture risk.

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The Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF) is supported by the National Institutes of Health funding. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) provides support under the following grant numbers: R01 AG005407, R01 AR35582, R01 AR35583, R01 AR35584, R01 AG005394, R01 AG027574, and R01 AG027576. Dr. Christiansen is supported by K01 AR062603 and R01 AR071459. Dr. Lane is supported by the SCOR P50 AR063043 and R01 AR043052 and Endowment to the Center for Musculoskeletal Health, UC Davis.

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Correspondence to B. A. Christiansen.

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Christiansen, B.A., Harrison, S.L., Fink, H.A. et al. Incident fracture is associated with a period of accelerated loss of hip BMD: the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. Osteoporos Int 29, 2201–2209 (2018).

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  • Bone loss
  • Cohort study
  • DXA
  • Fracture healing
  • Fracture risk assessment
  • Osteoporosis