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Bone. 1996 Mar;18(3 Suppl):185S-189S.

The clinical impact of vertebral fractures: quality of life in women with osteoporosis.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Osteoporosis has obvious physical and functional consequences such as kyphosis, restricted range of motion, and pain. What are not so obvious are the psychosocial sequelae that result from this metabolic bone disease. Many patients in the initial phases of the disease express substantial anxiety, especially about the possibility of future fractures and physical deformity. As the disease progresses, depression can become profound for those who experience hip or multiple vertebral fractures. The effects of the chronicity of osteoporosis, its disabling and disfiguring aspects, and the chronic postural pain that develops as time passes challenge even the most stable individuals. In addition, osteoporosis has substantial impact on interpersonal relationships and social roles. The dependency created by this disease affects close relationships, because the patient with osteoporosis cannot reciprocate in social support. Today's older women find the restrictions of the disease socially devastating. These women, unlikely to work in the labor force, took pride in their roles of housekeeper and cook. Unfortunately, severe osteoporosis can force women to relinquish even these social roles, leaving them with no source of self-esteem or accomplishment. In all, osteoporosis is devastating both psychologically and socially.

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