What is a Hip Fracture?

  • Hip fractures are serious breaks in the thighbone (femur) just below the hip joint
  • Women are especially vulnerable to hip fractures
  • Most hip fractures require surgery, hospitalization, and extended rehabilitation

Hip fractures are breaks in the thighbone (femur) just below the hip joint. They are serious injuries that most often occur in people aged 65 and older.

Women are especially vulnerable to hip fractures. Hip fractures can limit mobility and independence. Most hip fractures require surgery, hospitalization, and extended rehabilitation.

Most people who previously lived independently before hip fracture require assistance afterward.

Our Treatment Approach

Patients do better if they are operated on fairly quickly however, important to ensure patients’ safety and maximize their overall medical health before surgery. This may mean taking time to do cardiac and other diagnostic studies.

Causes

Most hip fractures are caused by factors that weaken bone, combined with the impact from a fall.

Bone Strength

Bone strength decreases as we age they can become very weak and fragile — a condition called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis may develop in women after menopause, and in men in older age. This bone-thinning disorder puts people at greater risk for broken bones, particularly fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine.

Risk Factors

Many of the factors that put you at greater risk for a hip fracture are those that cause bone loss.

  • Age. The risk for hip fractures increases as we age. In 2010, more than 80% of the people hospitalized for hip fractures were age 65 and older, according to the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS).
  • Gender. In 2010, 72% of hip fractures in people aged 65 and older occurred in women (NHDS).
  • Heredity. A family history of osteoporosis or broken bones in later life puts you at greater risk for a hip fracture. People with small, thin builds are also at risk.
  • Nutrition. Low body weight and poor nutrition, including a diet low in calcium and Vitamin D, can make you more prone to bone loss and hip fracture.
  • Lifestyle. Smoking, excessive alcohol use, and lack of exercise can weaken bones.
    • Physical and mental impairments. Physical frailty, arthritis, unsteady balance, poor eyesight, senility, dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease can increase the likelihood of falling.
    • Medications. Many medicines can affect balance and strength. Side effects of some medications can also include drowsiness and dizziness.In addition to factors that affect bone strength, things that put you at greater risk for falling can increase the possibility of hip fracture.
Exercise

Moderate exercise can slow bone loss and help maintain muscle strength. It also improves balance and coordination. Good exercises include climbing stairs, jogging, hiking, swimming, dancing, and weight training.

Balance training, yogo and tai chi have been shown to decrease falls and reduce the risk of hip fracture.

Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are just beginning an exercise program.

There are things you can do to maintain and even improve your bone strength.

  • Understand your individual risk for fracture. This is based on any risk factors you have for fracture and your bone density. Ask your doctor if you need a bone density test.
  • Understand your individual risk for bone loss. Genetics plays a role in bone health, and some people have genetically determined high rates of bone turnover after menopause or with aging. Talk to your doctor about bone metabolism testing. Bone metabolism testing can provide additional information about your risk for fracture.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Maintain a healthy weight and eat a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D. Do not smoke and limit your alcohol intake.
  • Consider bone-boosting medications. In addition to calcium and Vitamin D supplements, there are many drug options that slow bone loss and increase bone strength. Talk to your doctor about these methods for protecting your bones.

Symptoms

Patients with a hip fracture will have pain over the outer upper thigh or in the groin. There will be significant discomfort with any attempt to flex or rotate the hip.

If the bone has been weakened by disease (such as a stress injury or cancer), the patient may notice aching in the groin or thigh area for a period of time before the break. If the bone is completely broken, the leg may appear to be shorter than the noninjured leg. The patient will often hold the injured leg in a still position with the foot and knee turned outward (external rotation).