A hip fracture is a break in the thighbone just below the hip joint. The hip joint consists of a ball at the top of the thighbone (femur) and a rounded socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis. Most hip fractures occur in the femur one to two inches below the ball portion of the hip.
Factors that may contribute to a hip fracture include:
- Falls, the most frequent cause of hip fractures
- Osteoporosis--a bone-thinning disease that weakens all bones including the hip
- Motor vehicle accidents and other types of major trauma
- Stress fractures in athletes (rare)
- Bone diseases such as osteomalacia (rare)
- Bone tumors (rare)
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
- Previous hip fracture or history of falling
- Age: 65 years or older
- Sex: Female (especially after menopause)
- Family history of fractures later in life
- Small-boned, slender body (low body weight)
- Caucasian or Asian race
- Poor nutrition
- Deficient intake or absorption of calcium and vitamin
- Low body weight
- Physical inactivity
- Poor balance and coordination
- Excessive alcohol use
- Chronic disease or fragile health
- Irregular heart beat or low blood pressure
- Parkinson's disease
- History of stroke
- Mental impairments including Alzheimer’s Disease
- Problems with vision
- Certain medications which cause dizziness, drowsiness, or weakness
- Systemic cortisone or other steroids
- Excess thyroid hormone
Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the hip
- Difficulty or inability to stand, walk or move the hip
- Abnormal appearance of the broken leg:
- Looks shorter
- Turns outward
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, how the injury occurred, and then will perform a physical exam.
Tests may include:
X-Ray–to determine exactly where the bone is broken and how far out of place the pieces have moved
Bone Scan or MRI Scan–used if the fracture doesn't show up on x-rays but symptoms indicate a fracture has occurred
The goal is to get you back on your feet again as quickly as possible while your broken bone heals.
Prompt Emergency Treatment
- Taking all weight off the injured leg and immobilizing the fracture
- Checking vital signs such as blood pressure
- Treating problems such as internal blood loss
- Pain control with pain killers and other drugs
Surgery is performed to set the broken bone and hold it in the correct position. This may involve:
- Inserting a surgical plate and screws at the fracture site
- Replacing the hip with a metal implant (prosthesis), which has a ball that fits into the hip socket and an attached stem which goes into the thigh bone to hold the implant in place.
- Exercises or therapy to help you return to your normal level of activity
- A cane or walker as advised by your doctor
- Aid with activities of daily living until you can return to normal activity
Early corrective action may help alleviate many of the factors that can lead to a hip fracture. Here's what you can do:
- Eat a diet with nutrients for strong bones:
- Calcium–about 1000 milligrams daily, but check with your doctor
- Vitamin D–400-800 units a day
- Adequate protein intake
- Ask your doctor before starting.
- Weight-bearing activities such as walking
- Strengthening exercises for both upper and lower extremities
- See your doctor if you are at risk for osteoporosis. Preventive medication may include:
- Hormone replacement therapy for women after menopause
- Ask your provider if any of your medications may contribute to:
- Bone loss
- Dizziness, drowsiness, or confusion
- Reduce falling hazards at work and home:
- Clean spills and slippery areas immediately.
- Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs and clutter.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
- Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
- Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
- Walk only in well-lighted rooms, stairs, and halls.
- Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage.
- Get your eyes checked regularly.