Diabetes and osteoporosis are common chronic disorders with growing prevalence in the aging population. Skeletal fragility secondary to diabetes increases the risk of fractures and is underestimated by currently available diagnostic tools like fracture risk assessment (FRAX) and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). In this narrative review we describe the relationship and pathophysiology of skeletal fragility and fractures in Type 2 diabetes (T2DM), effect of glucose lowering medications on bone metabolism and the approach to diagnosing and managing osteoporosis and bone fragility in people with diabetes (PWD).
A literature search was conducted on PubMed for articles in English that focused on T2DM and osteoporosis or bone/skeletal fragility. Articles considered to be of direct clinical relevance to physicians practicing diabetes were included.
T2DM is associated with skeletal fragility secondary to compromised bone remodeling and bone turnover. Long duration, poor glycemic control, presence of chronic complications, impaired muscle function, and anti-diabetic medications like thiazolidinediones (TZD) are risk factors for fractures among PWD. Conventional diagnostic tools like DXA and FRAX tool underestimate fracture risk in diabetes. Presence of diabetes does not alter response to anti-osteoporotic treatment in post-menopausal women.
Estimation of fragility fracture risk should be included in standard of care for T2DM along with screening for traditional complications. Physicians should proactively screen for and manage osteoporosis in people with diabetes. It is important to consider effects on bone health when selecting glucose lowering agents in people at risk for fragility fractures.

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