Falls: epidemiology, pathophysiology, and relationship to fracture

Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2008 Dec;6(4):149-54. doi: 10.1007/s11914-008-0026-4.


Falls are common in the elderly, and frequently result in injury and disability. Most falls result from an interaction between individual characteristics that increase an individual's propensity to fall and acute mediating risk factors that provide the opportunity to fall. Predisposing risk factors include age-associated changes in strength and balance, comorbidities such as osteoarthritis, visual impairment and dementia, psychotropic medications, and certain types of footwear. Fewer studies have focused on acute precipitating factors, but environmental and situational factors are clearly important to fall risk. Approximately 30% of falls result in an injury that requires medical attention, with fractures occurring in approximately 10%. In addition to the risk factors for falls, the fall descent, fall impact, and bone strength are all important determinants of whether a fall will result in a fracture. In recent years, numerous studies have been directed toward the development of effective fall and fall-related fracture prevention interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / prevention & control
  • Aging / physiology
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Risk Factors