While it’s impossible to eliminate all risk of fracture from your life, it’s important to understand what risk you’re at—and what activities and health decisions you wake that increase or decrease that risk.
- Sports. Many sports have associated risks of one or more fractures. Repetitive motions increase the risk of stress fracture and high impacts and hard falls increase the risk of more serious fractures. Proper padding, technique, and rest are crucial in avoiding unnecessary breaks for the athletic.
- Occupational hazards. Certain occupations offer a significantly increased risk of fractures, like jobs involving heights, heavy machinery, and repetitive movements. As with sports, proper precautions for regular risks can greatly reduce your chance of a fracture.
- Inactivity. Inactivity over time leads to reduced bone density, especially in older people. This makes it easier to break a bone with less force.
- Increased activity. While exercise is good, a sudden increase in the intensity of activity can greatly increase your risk of fractures, especially stress fractures.
- Sex. Women are much more likely to experience a fracture given the same level of trauma, especially as they age, due to lower bone density and a higher risk of osteoporosis.
- Chronic medical conditions. Any number of chronic medical conditions which directly or indirectly effect bone density will in turn increase your likelihood of breaking a bone.
- Certain medications. Cortisone medications and some others can weaken bones and cause tearing, while other medications can make you more likely to suffer a fall or accident.
- Previous injuries. A history of stress fractures can increase your likelihood of stress fractures in the same bone, as can incomplete healing of other types of fracture.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Low vitamin D and calcium can lead to decreased bone density, making it easier to break bones.
- Age. Generally speaking, your likelihood of a fracture given a particular impact or stress event increases with age. Beyond that, certain fracture types and particular fractures change in likelihood at different ages; the unique properties of children’s bones make greenstick fractures, buckle fractures, and growth plate fractures more or less exclusive to children.
- Tobacco or alcohol use. Tobacco and alcohol both interfere with the formation and maintenance of bone.
- Bone abnormalities. Even relatively benign abnormalities in a bone can make it easier to break, due to changes in how pressure is distributed under load.
Fractures usually stem from accidents, and thus aren’t wholly within your control, but taking care of your body can greatly strengthen your bones, reduce your likelihood of trauma, and ensure better recovery if an accident does occur. Exercise, nutrition, and proper technique and equipment during physical activities will significantly reduce your risk.