The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) has issued two new pieces of guidance to support the prevention and identification of fractures in people with osteoporosis.

Clinical guidance for the effective identification of vertebral fractures aims to assist clinicians in establishing processes to ensure that as many patients with vertebral fractures are identified as possible, and to enable timely assessment and treatment of these patients.

Vertebral fractures are the most common type of osteoporotic fracture, and the most predictive of subsequent hip fractures. Systems that alert clinicians to a patient’s first vertebral fracture can help to avoid the cost of further fractures to both patients and the NHS, but identifying vertebral fractures systematically is a challenge, and more than two-thirds remain undiagnosed.

The guidance from NOS aims to raise awareness of the clinical significance of vertebral fractures and the importance of implementing timely investigation and management to reduce the risk of further fractures, and to highlight the case for a fully funded vertebral fracture identification pathway.

NOS has also issued Quality standards for osteoporosis and prevention of fragility fracturesseven quality standards that are designed to ensure that healthcare professionals, commissioners, decision makers, managers, and adults who are using services, are clear about the care that should be provided. 

The quality standards cover:

  • identifying people at risk of fragility fractures
  • assessing fracture risk
  • information and support (for adults using services and their carers)
  • interventions to reduce fracture risk
  • follow up and long-term management
  • preventing pain and functional impairment after fracture
  • leadership, governance, and professional development.

More than 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis, leading to an estimated 500,000 fragility fractures each year. Fragility fractures can be prevented by reducing fracture risk; diagnosing and treating osteoporosis, supporting people to make lifestyle changes to improve their bone strength, and by taking steps to help improve their muscle strength and balance to minimise the chances of falling.