Beach walk
(Cottage Health photo)

Winter weather may lead to fewer hip fractures than many believe. Most fall-related hip fractures among elderly people in a study conducted by a Connecticut hospital occurred in warm months and indoors.

We may escape the ice and snow as Central Coast residents, but this doesn’t necessarily reduce our risk for hip fractures.

The study found that more than half of outdoor fractures occur from May through October. In addition, the investigators found that more than three-quarters of the hip fractures occurred indoors.

The most common cause of both indoor and outdoor hip fracture? Tripping over an obstacle. Indoors, throw rugs were the most common obstacle cited.

Falling out of bed was the second leading cause of indoor hip fractures. Outdoors, the other leading causes of hip fractures were falling from a vehicle, followed by accidents on stairs.

“Falls are one of the most common health concerns facing the elderly today,” said Dr. Christopher Birch, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with the Cottage Center for Orthopedics. “And this population is the fastest growing segment of the United States.

“Understanding the risk factors for fractures can help to focus efforts on decreasing them, and guide resources and appropriate interventions to prevent them.”

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers these tips on reducing your risk for falls:

» Keep your home clear of clutter and make sure it is well lit.

» Reduce items that increase the risk of falls, like throw rugs in your home. Install grab bars in bathrooms.

» Get regular exercise to strengthen your bones and muscles, and improve balance.

» Each year, get an eye exam and a complete physical.

» Discuss all medications with your doctor, as some drugs can have side effects.

» Know your risk factors for bone loss and fractures.

» Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin D and calcium. If needed, talk to your doctor about medication to improve bone health.