What is a hip fracture?
A hip fracture is a partial or complete break of the femur (thigh bone), where it meets your pelvic bone. It’s a serious injury that requires immediate medical attention.
Fractured hips in younger people usually occur during car accidents, long falls or other severe traumas. A hairline crack called a stress fracture can also develop from overuse and repetitive motion.
The majority of hip fractures, though, happen to people over 60. For them, a simple fall is the most common cause — though a small percentage of patients experience spontaneous fractures.Hip fractures can cause a number of complications. In older patients, these include:
Fortunately, surgical repairs and physical therapy techniques continue to improve. There are also straightforward ways to prevent hip fractures.
Hip Fractures in Children
What are the symptoms of a hip fracture?
While each patient experiences a hip fracture differently, symptoms generally include:
Hip fracture symptoms may actually come from other medical conditions, so always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
What are the risk factors of a hip fracture?
Bones become thinner and weaker as you grow older — doubling the rate of hip fractures for each decade of age after 50.When bone is lost too quickly or not replaced rapidly enough, osteoporosis can develop and increase the risk of hip fractures. While the disease can strike anyone, those particularly vulnerable include:
Diminished estrogen production makes postmenopausal women more susceptible to osteoporosis and hip fractures — in fact, women make up 70 percent of all hip fracture patients.
Hip Fracture Prevention
Preventing a hip fracture is more desirable than treating one. Advice on avoiding a fracture is similar to that for preventing osteoporosis and includes:
Consuming enough vitamin D and calcium — including such calcium-rich foods as milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, sardines and broccoli
Engaging in regular weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging or hiking, or improving strength and balance through programs like Tai Chi
Most hip fractures sustained by older people occur from falls, usually at home and often while walking on a level surface. You can avoid such accidents by:
Hip Fracture Diagnosis
Your hip can fracture into a single break or multiple breaks. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, your doctor may decide to diagnose your injury by using:
If you break your hip, you should get tested for osteoporosis so you and your doctor can take steps to prevent another fracture.
Hip Fracture Treatment
A hip fracture is usually treated with surgery — either by strengthening and stabilizing the hip with metal inserts, or fully replacing it. The goal is to relieve your pain and help you resume a normal activity level.The type of surgical repair recommended depends on:
Hip surgery usually requires a hospital stay, followed by additional rehab — either at home or in a rehab facility.