MICHELLE WARREN, MD: Spinal fractures are the most common, but they often go undiagnosed, which is interesting. We focus on hip fractures because after an elderly patient has had a hip fracture, the quality of life is so affected.
DAVID R. MARKS, MD: Tell me how it affects a person's life. Some people might think, "A hip fracture, okay. So you break your leg and you get better." That's not the case?
MICHELLE WARREN, MD: Not if you've ever taken care of anybody elderly. What happens is hospitalization, operation, physical therapy, and very often a nursing home for a while until the patient learns the skills to walk again. And then the issue is whether they're going to be able to live alone. So that depends on how good their balance is and how good their strength is. Very often it's related to age, but in the population that's over 70, it's a devastating thing, and it very often means that they become dependent on others.
DAVID R. MARKS, MD: I've heard a lot about people who were healthy and had a hip fracture, and then they kind of went downhill from there mentally and physically. Do you see that often?
MICHELLE WARREN, MD: It's very common. I think not only do doctors worry about it, but patients themselves recognize this because they've seen it in their friends.
DAVID R. MARKS, MD: What is it about this? There's no connection between the head and the hip. What is it about this problem?