Archives of Osteoporosis

, 13:77 | Cite as

Musculoskeletal health of Indigenous Australians

  • Ayse ZenginEmail author
  • Louise J. Maple-Brown
  • Sharon Brennan-Olsen
  • Jacqueline R. Center
  • Sandra Eades
  • Peter R. Ebeling



Research on non-communicable diseases (NCD) in Indigenous Australians has mostly focused on diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney or cardiovascular disease. Osteoporosis, characterised by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, and sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, often co-exist with these common NCDs—the combination of which will disproportionately increase bone fragility and fracture risk and negatively influence cortical and trabecular bone. Furthermore, the social gradient of NCDs, including osteoporosis and fracture, is well-documented, meaning that specific population groups are likely to be at greater risk of poorer health outcomes: Indigenous Australians are one such group.


This review summarises the findings reported in the literature regarding the muscle and bone health of Indigenous Australians.


There are limited data regarding the musculoskeletal health of Indigenous Australians; however, areal bone mineral density (aBMD) measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is reported to be greater at the hip compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisations in older Australians, particularly Indigenous Australians, with a great proportion suffering from fall-related fractures. Despite sparse data, it appears that Indigenous men and women have a substantially higher risk of hip fracture at a much younger age compared to non-Indigenous Australians.


Data on more detailed musculoskeletal health outcomes are required in Indigenous Australians to better understand fracture risk and to formulate evidence-based strategies for fracture prevention and to minimise the risk of falls.


Indigenous Australian Bone Muscle Osteoporosis Fracture 


Funding information

LMB was supported by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC, of Australia) Practitioner Fellowship (#1078477), and SLB-O was supported by NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (#1107510).

Compliance with ethical standards

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the NHMRC.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ayse Zengin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Louise J. Maple-Brown
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sharon Brennan-Olsen
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Jacqueline R. Center
    • 7
    • 8
  • Sandra Eades
    • 9
    • 10
  • Peter R. Ebeling
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash Medical CentreMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Menzies School of Health ResearchDarwinAustralia
  3. 3.Division of MedicineRoyal Darwin HospitalDarwinAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Medicine-Western HealthUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS)University of Melbourne and Western HealthMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.Australian Health Policy CollaborationMelbourneAustralia
  7. 7.Bone Biology ProgramGarvan Institute of Medical ResearchSydneyAustralia
  8. 8.Department of Endocrinology, St Vincent’s Clinical SchoolUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  9. 9.Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Centre for Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  10. 10.Aboriginal Health DomainBaker Heart and Diabetes InstituteMelbourneAustralia

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