10 October 2016
Global efforts to effectively diagnose and treat osteoporosis are currently being undermined by a number of common problems, according to a new worldwide report.
Issued by the International Osteoporosis Foundation ahead of World Osteoporosis Day, the study indicated that millions of at-risk individuals are currently prevented from being diagnosed and treated worldwide due to systemic issues, despite the danger posed and the growing availability of effective treatments.
At present, poor case finding and management is hampering global efforts to drive up rates of secondary fracture prevention, or the protection of those who have already broken a bone from further injuries. Similar problems are hampering efforts to pick up osteoporosis induced by medicines, diseases associated with osteoporosis, and the prevention of initial fractures among individuals considered to be at high risk.
Meanwhile, poor communication is leading to low public awareness of several key issues, including the importance of sticking with a prescribed treatment, the seriousness of the disease's impact, and the benefits versus the risks of osteoporosis treatment.
Governments and healthcare systems have also been accused of failing to provide the necessary access and reimbursement for osteoporosis assessment and treatment, reflecting a broader lack of prioritisation of fragility fracture prevention in national healthcare policy.
Additionally, it was noted that further research into disease trends is needed worldwide to help inform policy development, particularly in developing nations, where the impact of osteoporosis and other fracture-related health problems is expected to become increasingly severe over the next four decades.
The net result of these recurrent global problems is that approximately 80 per cent of people who have already suffered a broken bone due to osteoporosis currently remain unprotected against the risk of further fractures, putting them at significant risk of permanent disability and a greatly reduced quality of life.
Study co-author Professor Eugene McCloskey, director of the MRC/ARUK Centre for Integrated Research in Musculoskeletal Ageing at Sheffield Northern General Hospital's Metabolic Bone Centre, said: "A fracture tsunami is approaching, and the resulting human and socioeconomic burden will have an enormous impact on all countries with ageing populations.
"The result of fragility fractures can be profoundly debilitating, with chronic pain and disability leading to reduced mobility and quality of life. Fewer than half of seniors who survive a hip fracture will walk unaided again, and up to 20 per cent will become residents of care homes in the year following the fracture."
There have been numerous advances in the treatment of osteoporosis and fractures in the last few years, from the development of safe and cost-effective drug therapies for managing the condition, to the evolution of orthopaedic surgery techniques to provide longer-term solutions for those with chronic problems.
However, as the new report shows, there remains a need for policymakers to remove the barriers preventing people from accessing these treatments - as well as to raise awareness of the nature of the condition itself.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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