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    Fracture Prevention: 6 Tips to Fight Fractures, Slips, and Falls

    Learn how just a little effort and forethought today can help you prevent fractures tomorrow.

    Fracture Prevention Tip: "Fall-Proof" Your Home

    Given that you probably spend the bulk of time in your home, a key part of fracture prevention is to make it safer. But this advice is often ignored. "Many people just don't do a very good job fall-proofing their homes," says Amin.

    So what should you do?

    • Keep rooms free of clutter -- get rid of those piles of clothes and boxes of papers.
    • Put down carpet or plastic runners on polished -- and potentially slippery -- floors.
    • Get throw rugs, electric cords, and phone lines off the floor.
    • Make sure to have handrails on all stairs.
    • Install railings in the bathroom around the toilet and the shower.
    • Put a rubber mat on the floor of your bath or shower.

    Fracture Prevention Tip: Treat Health Conditions

    Many chronic diseases and health conditions become more common as you get older. Some can affect your strength or physical functioning and increase the risk of a fall. Arthritis can make it hard to move around. Obviously, vision problems directly increase your risk of tripping. Other conditions associated with fractures include chronic lung disease, hyperthyroidism, cancer, chronic liver disease, chronic kidney disease, and endometriosis.

    If you have any other health conditions, ask your doctor if they might increase your risk of a fall. If they do, see if any treatments might help. One difficulty is that some of these problems may come on so gradually that you might not even notice. For instance, you might not realize that your vision is slowly getting worse, or if your gait has become a little less steady. That's why it's important to get regular check-ups: not only with your doctor, but your eye doctor and any other specialists you need.

    Bone Fractures Aren't Inevitable

    Even with precautions, some types of bone fractures are tough to avoid. Just a mild bump can be enough to break a bone in people with severe osteoporosis. Only 10-15% of vertebral fractures are caused by falls, Schousboe says. Many are caused by physical stress, perhaps by something as simple as bending over or even coughing.

    But this just drives home how important prevention is: since some fractures can't be prevented, you need to work on the fracture risks you can control. While bone fractures may be more likely as you get older, they aren't inevitable.

    Sure, some of these fracture prevention tips require a little effort and forethought on your part. It's easy to put them off or ignore them. But are they worth it? You bet. Better to take precautions now than regret not taking them later -- while you lie in a cast counting the panels in your hospital room ceiling.

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    Reviewed on July 27, 2007

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