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Dr. Bruce Jones, St. Luke's Hospital

Women with lupus at higher risk for hip fractures

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, approximately 1.5 million Americans are living with some form of lupus, with 90 percent of that population being women.

What these women, and men, must be concerned about is not only their present treatment plan for the disease but also a risk they could face down the line - experiencing a life-limiting hip fracture.

To better understand the risk, it is best to understand the disease itself. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, a condition which causes the body's immune system to misread healthy tissue for foreign viruses or bacteria. As a result, the body's immune system produces autoantibodies that target healthy tissue and cause damage.

In some circumstances, the damage caused by lupus is located in the joints. According to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research, researchers followed 15,000 adults who had lupus (90 percent of them were women). They found that 75 of the study participants experienced a hip fracture. This is important because knowing you have an increased risk can help you take steps to minimize the chance of a hip fracture in the future.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons statistics show that about 25 percent of patients with hip fractures make a full recovery, while 40 percent require nursing home care. In addition, 50 percent require the use of a walker and, unfortunately, 24 percent of people over the age of 50 die within a year of their hip fractures.

In general, most hip fractures require some sort of surgical correction. Time is of the essence. Quick treatment of hip fractures helps to ensure better recovery. Some patients, however, may be too ill for surgery, and they should consider other treatment options. Most surgeries focus on repairing the fracture with some kind of metal fixation. Partial and total hip replacement surgeries are also treatment considerations, depending on the fracture configuration, as well as other circumstances.

Dr. Bruce Jones specializes in joint replacement and orthopedic surgery at St. Luke's Hospital. Register to attend a free class on total knee or hip replacement in 2013 by visiting the Classes and Events section or by calling 314-542-4848.

This article was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 31, 2013.