Musculoskeletal health of Indigenous Australians

Abstract

Introduction

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.

Purpose

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

Findings

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Fig. 1

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Funding

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).

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Correspondence to Ayse Zengin.

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Zengin, A., Maple-Brown, L.J., Brennan-Olsen, S. et al. Musculoskeletal health of Indigenous Australians. Arch Osteoporos 13, 77 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11657-018-0493-x

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Keywords

  • Indigenous Australian
  • Bone
  • Muscle
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fracture