Considerations in the Treatment of Osteoporotic Distal Radius Fractures in Elderly Patients

Peter J. Ostergaard, Matthew J. Hall, Tamara D. Rozental*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: With the incidence of distal radius fractures increasing in the elderly population, we sought to summarize the current orthopedic and medical management of these fractures in the elderly osteoporotic population. Recent Findings: The number of osteoporotic patients undergoing surgical fixation for distal radius fractures has increased in recent years. This is likely due to the improved outcomes seen with volar locking plates, as well as an increase in the number of fellowship-trained hand surgeons. Despite this potential improvement in acute fracture management, a majority of these patients are underdiagnosed and undertreated for their underlying osteoporosis or endocrinopathies. The implementation of fracture liaison services and the ability of the treating orthopedist to recognize this gap in patient care result in a higher number of patients initiating appropriate treatment. Summary: It is vital that when discussing acute fracture management, a thorough discussion is had with patients regarding functional outcome and the benefits of both surgical and non-operative management. As these fractures become more prevalent and a greater percentage undergo surgical intervention, the economic burden of distal radius fractures will continue to rise. It is imperative that the treating surgeon view these fractures as sentinel events that are predictive of future hip and vertebral fractures. While relatively new, the use of fracture liaison services to help aide in proper screening and treatment of osteoporotic patients is of great value. Non-pharmacologic therapy such as physical therapy, smoking and alcohol cessation programs, and dietary modifications are crucial in treating patients with osteoporosis. While bisphosphonates remain the first-line treatment in patients with osteoporosis, novel therapies show promise for future use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019


  • Distal radius fractures
  • Elderly
  • Osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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