Older men are much less likely than women to receive osteoporosis screening and treatment after suffering a wrist fracture, a new study reveals.
While osteoporosis is widely regarded as a disease that affects older women, as many as one in four men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis, according to the researchers. And, more than 2 million American men have osteoporosis, they added.
"Treating men for bone fractures, but not the underlying cause, places them at a greater risk for future bone breaks and related complications," study author Dr. Tamara Rozental, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, said in a news release from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
For the study, published Nov. 1 in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, the investigators analyzed the medical records of 95 men and 344 women older than 50 who were treated for a wrist fracture between 2007 and 2012.
A wrist fracture is the third most common type of fragility fracture and the most common upper extremity fracture in older adults, the study authors noted. A fragility fracture occurs when a person falls from a standing or lower position, and is typically due to bone loss, the researchers explained.
The study found that men were three times less likely than women to undergo bone mass density testing for osteoporosis after a wrist fracture. In addition, men were also seven times less likely than women to begin treatment for osteoporosis after a wrist fracture.
Within six months of the wrist fracture, 55 percent of women and 21 percent of men began treatment with calcium and vitamin D supplements, the study found. Just over 20 percent of women -- but only 3 percent of men -- starting taking bisphosphonates, a common drug treatment for increasing bone mass, the researchers said.
Men older than 50 who suffer wrist fractures should undergo testing to identify those who are at high risk for more fractures and who would benefit from treatment, Rozental suggested in the news release.