Around 80 per cent are unable to do activities like shopping, gardening and climbing stairs.
"In many people, as they get older, their skeleton loses the ability to heal fractures and repair itself," he said.
"With careful application of teriparatide, we believe we've found a way to turn back the clock on fracture healing through a simple, in-body stem cell therapy."At the heart of the research is a form of teriparatide known as Forteo, which was approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in 2002.
They noted that avoiding developing chronic conditions like diabetes and COPD could also help avoid frailty.
The research is particularly relevant to the elderly because, as bodies age, the ability to mend broken bones reduces significantly and in older people the damage may lead to permanent disability and even death.
That's what teriparatide did in our initial research."I had patients with severe osteoporosis, in tremendous pain from multiple fractures throughout their spine and pelvis, who I would put on teriparatide."When they would come back for their follow-up visits three months later, it was amazing to see not just the significant healing in their fractures, but to realise they were pain-free – a new and welcome experience for many of these patients."Typically, a pelvic fracture will take months to heal, and people are in extreme pain for the first eight to 12 weeks.
This time was more than cut in half; we saw complete pain relief, callus formation, and stability of the fracture in people who had fractures that up to that point had not healed."The researchers, who presented their findings at the Orthopaedic Research Society conference in the USA, revealed that of 145 patients who had an unhealed bone fracture – half of them for six months or longer – 93 per cent showed significant healing and pain control after being on teriparatide for only eight to 12 weeks.
Observations led a team of clinicians and researchers to uncover how this drug can also boost the body's bone stem cell production to the point that adults' bones appear to have the ability to heal at a rate typically seen when they were young children."It takes three to four months for a typical pelvic fracture to heal," said Dr Susan Bukata, who also took part in the study."But during those three months, patients can be in excruciating pain, because there are no medical devices or other treatments that can provide relief to the patient.
"Imagine if we can give patients a way to cut the time of their pain and immobility in half?
The breakthrough could lead to huge increase in the standard of living of the elderly as half of women and one in five men in Britain will suffer a fracture after the age of 50.