New research out of Taiwan is suggesting that women who suffer from lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, are also at a higher risk of a certain hip fracture known as the cervical fracture. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that damages any part of the body, including skin, joints, and/or organs. With autoimmune diseases, something goes wrong with the patient’s immune system and it cannot tell the difference between foreign invaders and the healthy tissue of the body. The immune system then creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy the body’s healthy tissue. There are a wide range of symptoms due to the effect on so many different organs. The most common symptoms include fatigue, headaches, swollen or painful joints, fever, anemia, hair loss, and abnormal blood clotting.
In this study 15,000 adults with lupus were evaluated, 90 percent of who were women (since there were not enough men in the study, a scientific analysis of their fracture risk could not be conducted). The researchers followed them on average for six years. During this time 75 percent suffered some type of hip fracture. Cervical fractures to the hip constituted 57 percent, while the other 18 percent were trochanteric hip fractures. The difference between the two types of fractures is that the cervical hip fracture involves the highest area of the thighbone, while a trochanteric hip fracture is a fracture that occurs between the lesser and greater trochanters (the bony prominences near the end of the thighbone).
The researchers also compared the women and men with lupus to the same number of health people who did not have lupus. Within the healthy group, 43 percent had hip fractures during the follow-up period. These fractures were divided up evenly between the two types.
The researchers concluded that lupus increased the risk of cervical fractures when compared to the general population. Additionally, the women with lupus were likely to suffer a cervical fracture at a younger age.
Due to the nature of the disease, this higher risk of hip fracture is not surprising. The inflammation the disease causes affects the bone. While patients are often prescribed steroid medication to relieve inflammation, the medications can also have a negative effect on the bones. In an effort to preserve bone health, lupus patients need to get enough calcium and vitamin D, as well as take drugs for bone-maintenance, should the doctor decide this is necessary. Regular exercise for patients helps as well.
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