What is hip fracture?


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Know the basics

What is hip fracture?

A hip fracture is more than a broken bone. A hip fracture is a break in the upper quarter of the femur (thigh) bone. The severity of the fracture depends on the force that cause the fracture. If you are older, breaking your hip can mean a major change in your life. Hip fracture is a serious injury that can bring major changes to a person’s life.

A hip fracture can reduce physical activities and change your life significantly. About half of people who have a hip fracture are unable to regain their ability to live independently.

How common is hip fracture?

Hip fracture occurs in approximately 341,000 persons in the United States each year. The rate of hip fracture increases with age, doubling every 5-6 years after age 60 years.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of hip fracture?

Signs and symptoms of a hip fracture include:

  • Inability to move immediately after a fall;
  • Severe pain in your hip or groin;
  • Inability to put weight on your leg on the side of your injured hip;
  • Stiffness, bruising and swelling in and around your hip area;
  • Unequal length of your legs, usually the injured side is shorter than the other side;
  • Turning outward of your leg on the side of your injured hip.

These symptoms are most common after a fall. But if you have very thin bones from osteoporosis or another problem, you could break your hip without falling.

If a hip fracture keeps you immobile for a long time, the complications can include:

  • Blood clots in your legs or lungs;
  • Bedsores;
  • Urinary tract infection;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Further loss of muscle mass, increasing your risk of falls and injury.

Additionally, people who’ve had a hip fracture are at increased risk of weakened bones and further falls – which means a significantly higher risk of having another hip fracture.

If you have any concern, please consult your doctor for more information.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above, you need to get to hospital for treatment as soon as possible. Call for an ambulance and try to keep warm while you wait. Besides, if you have any questions, please consult with your doctor.

Know the causes

What causes hip fracture?

Hip fracture happens when a severe impact occur to your hips, such as a car crash or a fall. Hip fracture can occur to everyone. In older adults, because their bones are weak from aging, hip fracture can occur from a fall from a standing height. In people with very weak bones, a hip fracture can occur simply by standing on the leg and twisting.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for hip fracture?

There are many other factors that increase your risk of breaking your hip include:

  • Being female;
  • The older you are, the more likely you are to have hip fracture;
  • Your family history-being thin or tall or having family members who had fractures later in life;
  • Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D, which you need for strong bones;
  • Not being active. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, helps keep bones strong;
  • Smoking;
  • Medical conditions that cause dizziness or problems with balance, or conditions such as arthritis that can interfere with steady and safe movement;
  • Taking certain medicines, such as long-term steroid medicines used to treat asthma or COPD.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hip fracture diagnosed?

Your doctor will first check your physical symptoms of your hip. Then, imaging tests will be used to check the severity of your fracture. You might have a test such as:

  • AnMRI, which gives better images of bones and soft tissues.
  • ACT scan, another way of getting more detailed images.
  • A bone scan, which involves injecting a dye, then taking images. It can show hairline fractures, where the bone is cracked but the pieces are still in place.

How is hip fracture treated?

The most effective treatment for hip fracture is surgery. Having surgery done in 24 hours after a hip fracture is diagnosed may help shorten your stay in the hospital as well as reduce pain and complications. If you have other medical problems, surgery is delayed for 1 to 2 days so other medical problems can be treated first.

After a careful assessment of a hip fracture, doctor will help you choose the appropriate treatment. The type of surgery you have will depend on where the break is and how bad it is. They include:

  • Hip repair surgery: This surgery is usually chosen if the bones can be lined up properly.
  • Hip replacement surgery: Total hip replacement is often done when the fractured bones can’t be properly lined up.

It might take some time for hip fracture to heal. You should avoid doing activities during the healing period. So for a while you may need to be in a nursing home or rehabilitation (rehab) center.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hip fracture?

Your doctor will encourage you to take part in a rehab program that includes physical therapy and occupational therapy.

While everyone’s bones get weaker as we age, keeping a healthy lifestyle during early adulthood can help reduce the risk of hip fracture later on in life. To avoid falls and to maintain healthy bone:

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Men and women age 50 and older should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day, and 600 international units of vitamin D a day.
  • Exercise to strengthen bones and improve balance. Practicing exercises regularly can help you increase your overall strength and balance. This will reduce the risk of falling.
  • Avoid smoking or excessive drinking. Tobacco and alcohol use can reduce bone density. Drinking too much alcohol also can impair your balance and make you more likely to fall.
  • Assess your home for hazards. Remove throw rugs, keep electrical cords against the wall, and clear excess furniture and anything else that could trip you. Make sure every room and passageway is well-lit.
  • Check your eyes. Have an eye exam every other year, or more often if you have diabetes or an eye disease.
  • Watch your medications. Feeling weak and dizzy, which are possible side effects of many medications, can increase your risk of falling. Talk to your doctor about side effects caused by your medications.
  • Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop and make you feel wobbly.
  • Use a walking stick or walker. If you don’t feel steady when you walk, ask your doctor or occupational therapist whether these aids might help.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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