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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What can cause recurring non-trauma rib fractures?

    I have had over 25 non-trauma rib fractures since May 2012. I have seen numerous specialists and had every test imaginable. I have been cleared of osteoporosis, bone cancers & most recently Cushings disease, as well as numerous other things, blood tests also keep presenting with elevated cortisol levels and high white cell counts. This has prevented me from working & living for almost 2 years and everyone is at a loss as to why it keeps happening and assigns it to the ‘too hard basket’. I'm a single mum with 3 kids to raise…. I need some answers and direction as I'm sick of wrapping myself in bubble wrap even though as easy as I take it my ribs keep on breaking. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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    Dr Kevin Lee

    Endocrinologist, Nuclear Medicine Physician

    Consultant Physician in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Nuclear Medicine. I am on Twitter @dr_kevinlee. I am on Facebook I help patients with obesity, diabetes, thyroid, … View Profile

    Sorry to hear all the troubles.

    It is not usual to have so many non-traumatic rib fractures.

    The elevated cortisol level certainly would make one suspicious for cortisol excess, however it sounds like that has been asssessed.

    I would like to point out that, there is not 100% accurate test, therefore, if there is ongoing clinical suspicion for a disorder then watchful waiting with a view of repeating investigations is often necessary.

    There are many endocrine disorders that can predispose to fractures. Other than Cushing's, hyperthyroidism, osteoporosis of various causes. There is also osteomalacia, osteogenesis imperfecta, osteopetrosis. It is beyond the scope of this forum to go into detail.


    The best thing is to continue close follow-up with your GP and if appropriate, refer to a specialist with an interest in fragilty fractures.



    Dr Kevin Lee




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