Fractures of the hip occur when there is a break located in the hipbone, typically involving a break in the thigh bone (femur) area of the hip joint. A hip fracture is a serious injury that could result in major complications. Surgery is often required to immediately repair hip fractures.
Anatomy Of The Hip
Much like the shoulder, the hip joint is a ball-and-socket type of joint that is formed where the femur meets the pelvis. The joint of the hip itself where the ball-shaped head of the femur meets the socket of the pelvis is known as the acetabulum.
Very large and immense tendons, ligaments, and muscles hold the bones that comprise the joint in place and provide stability, motion, and keep the joint from dislocating. The hip joint is one of the largest joints in the body and bears the most weight, making a hip fracture detrimental to daily function.
What Is A Hip Fracture?
A hip fracture results from severe impact to the hip joint that often results in abnormal positioning of the hip or leg. Hip fractures happen when there is a break either in the socket of the pelvis, acetabulum, or the upper part of the femur. As previously stated, hip fractures can be deadly and often require immediate surgery upon diagnosis.
What Causes A Hip Fracture?
Hip fractures occur when there is direct and severe impact to the hip joint. In older adults and the elderly, hip fractures can occur when falling from a standing height. If an individual has very weak bones, a hip fracture may occur simply by twisting the leg the wrong way.
There are many risk factors associated with hip fractures that may increase an individual’s likelihood to fracture their hip. These factors include:
- Age – Bone density and muscle mass has been proven to decrease with age. Weakened bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage can increase the likelihood of a hip fracture given any activity. In addition, elderly folks tend to experience a decrease in the efficiency of their vision and balance. This can increase the risk of falling exponentially.
- Sex – Hip fractures are three times more likely to occur in women than they are with men. Women lose bone density and muscle mass faster than men do, and as a result hip fractures are more likely. The drop of estrogen levels that occur in menopause have a direct correlation with decreased bone density and muscle mass.
- Chronic medical conditions – Osteoporosis causes bones to weaken and decrease in density, increasing the likelihood of hip fractures. Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism can lead to weak and fragile bones, making hip fractures more likely to occur. Intestinal disorders reduce the intake of vitamin D and calcium, which are necessities for strong and healthy bones. In addition, cognitive impairment, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke can increase one’s risk of falling.
- Physical Inactivity – Lack of regular exercise such as walking and running can result in weakened bones and muscles. This contributes to the increased possibility of fractures and falls.
- Alcohol & Tobacco use – The use of these drugs can result in the processes of bone maintenance and strength, which make fractures more likely to occur.
Symptoms Of Hip Fractures
Symptoms of a hip fracture have been proven to include:
- Severe pain in the hip joint or groin area
- Inability to bear weight on the affected leg
- Bruising and swelling around the hip area
- Inability to get up from a fall
- Inability to walk
- The leg on the side of the injured hip appears to be shorter
- Outward turning of the leg or foot on the side of the injured hip
Diagnosing A Hip Fracture
A physician can often diagnose a hip fracture immediately based on an individual’s symptoms or an abnormal positioning of the hip or leg. XRays are normally ordered to determine and reveal the location of the fracture and its severity.
If XRays cannot aid in the diagnosis of a hip fracture but symptoms are present, the physician may order an MRI or bone scan to look for a hairline fracture. CT scans are also commonly used to diagnose a hip fracture.
Treating Hip Fractures
Treatment for hip fracture typically warrants immediate surgery. After surgery, pain medication is prescribed and rehabilitation begins once the patient has recovered from the surgery.
The types of surgery recommended are reliant on the type of fracture and the area of the fracture. Health history and underlying health conditions are always considered prior to surgery.
Internal Repair Using Screws – During the procedure, metal screws are inserted into the affected bone to hold it together while the fracture heals. On occasion, screws are sometimes attached to a metal plate that runs down the thigh bone (femur).
Hip Replacement Surgery – The ball shaped head of the upper femur and the socket of the pelvic bone are replaced with artificial parts that simulate the hip joint. Studies have proven that total hip replacement has better long-term outcomes and effects than other methods.
Partial Hip Replacement Surgery – If the ends of the fractured or broken bone are damaged, displaced or severely worn, a doctor will remove the head and neck of the femur and install a metal replacement. Partial hip replacement is often recommended for those who do not live independently.
A care team will be chosen by the patient. It is common that during the first day after surgery the care provider will have the patient out of bed and moving to test the replacement apparati. Physical therapy initially focuses on increasing range of motion and strengthening exercises. Depending on the type of surgery, doctors will often recommend the patient stay at an extended care facility in which an occupational therapist will show the patient ways to navigate throughout their daily routines successfully.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any symptoms related to a hip fracture, have or have not been diagnosed, or require surgery, seek the medical professionals at the Center for Orthopaedic Specialists. The Center for orthopaedic specialists have been providing the citizens of California with treatment plans that will alleviate the effects of a hip fracture. Contact the Center for Orthopaedic Specialists today!