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Epidemiology. 1996 Nov;7(6):612-8.

Basic epidemiology of fractures of the upper and lower limb among Americans over 65 years of age.

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Department of Medicine, Dattmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03755-3861, USA.


Current knowledge regarding the basic epidemiology of fractures is largely limited to a few fracture sites, notably those of the hip and distal forearm. To clarify the patterns of incidence of limb fractures in the elderly, we used data from a 5% sample of the U.S. Medicare population over age 65 years during the years 1986-1990. We identified incident fractures of the proximal humerus, other parts of the humerus, proximal radius/ ulna, shaft of the radius/ulna, distal radius/ulna, pelvis, hip, other parts of the femur, patella, ankle, and other parts of the tibia/fibula from diagnoses and procedures coded on claims for inpatient services, outpatient facility use, and physician services. We used Poisson regression to investigate the relation between demographic factors and fracture risk at these sites. Fractures at the hip were the most common, accounting for 38% of the fractures identified. The proximal humerus, distal radius/ulna, and ankle also were common fracture sites. A pattern of rapidly rising rates with age was seen for fractures of the pelvis, hip, and other parts of the femur among women. Fractures distal to the elbow or knee, however, had, at most, modest increases in incidence with age over 65 years. For each of the fractures studied, women had higher rates than men of the same race, and whites generally had higher rates than blacks of the same gender. Gender-related differences in risk were larger among whites than among blacks, and racial differences in risk were more marked among women than among men.

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