Despite growing rates of fragility fractures, there has been a lack of research investigating the risk and characteristics of recurrent fragility fractures.

The Medicare Standard Analytic Files database was used to identify patients from 2005 to 2009 who were older than 65 years, had a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia, and sustained a fragility fracture of the proximal humerus, distal radius, hip, ankle, or vertebral column. The incidence and type of recurrent fragility fracture were tracked over a 36-month period.

A total of 1,059,212 patients had an initial fragility fracture from 2005 to 2009. Of these patients, 5.8% had a subsequent fragility fracture within 1 year for their initial fracture, 8.8% within 2 years, and 11.3% within 3 years. At 3-year follow-up, hip fractures were the most common type of subsequent fracture, regardless of the initial fracture type (6.5%, P < 0.001). Vertebral compression and proximal humerus fractures (13.8% and 13.2%, respectively) were most likely to be associated with a recurrent fragility fracture.

Patients who have any type of fragility fracture have a notable risk of subsequent fractures within 3 years, especially hip fractures. These patients should be evaluated and treated for underlying risks factors, including osteoporosis and/or osteopenia.

Retrospective, level III.

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