Musculoskeletal frailty: a geriatric syndrome at the core of fracture occurrence in older age

Calcif Tissue Int. 2012 Sep;91(3):161-77. doi: 10.1007/s00223-012-9622-5. Epub 2012 Jul 14.


A progressive decline in physiologic reserves inevitably occurs with ageing. Frailty results from reaching a threshold of decline across multiple organ systems. By consequence, frail elderly experience an excess vulnerability to stressors and are at high risk for functional deficits and comorbid disorders, possibly leading to institutionalization, hospitalization and death. The phenotype of frailty is referred to as the frailty syndrome and is widely recognized in geriatric medical practice. Although frailty affects both musculoskeletal and nonmusculoskeletal systems, sarcopenia, which is defined as age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, constitutes one of the main determinants of fracture risk in older age and one of the main components of the clinical frailty syndrome. As a result, operational definitions of frailty and therapeutic strategies in older patients tend to focus on the consequences of sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / pathology
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Weakness / complications
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology
  • Phenotype
  • Sarcopenia / complications*
  • Sarcopenia / pathology
  • Syndrome