Hip Fractures

Hip fractures occur when there is a break in the hip bone, usually in the upper part of the femur or the pelvic bone.

Injury is an obvious cause of hip fractures. In the elderly population, an injury can result from something as simple as losing one’s balance and falling to the ground. Osteoporosis can weaken the neck of the femur to the point that any increased stress may cause the neck of the femur to break suddenly. An uncertain step may result in a twist to the hip joint that places too much stress across the neck of the femur.

In elderly patients, a hip fracture most often results from a simple fall. The patient typically complains of pain and inability to move the hip. With stress fractures in young athletes and non-displaced fractures, the patient may complain of pain in the hip or knee, but may still be ambulatory. Women who have gone through menopause are more at risk of hip fractures.

A hip fracture may need a hip replacement surgery where an artificial prosthesis is used to replace the broken hipbone.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of a hip fracture usually happens in the emergency room, based on an X-ray. The diagnosis begins with a review of the case history and a physical examination. It is important that the doctor is advised of any other medical problems the patient has so that treatment of the hip fracture can be planned.

Since hip fractures are considered an orthopedic emergency, one benefit from the treatment is relief from pain that results from the injury. Patients who take initial treatment for a hip fracture can control the movement of the painful limb. Applying ice to the injured area can also reduce the swelling.

Based on your general health and current medications, your doctor will plan the best form of treatment for you. X-rays and CAT scans or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests enable your doctor to make an informed decision regarding the treatment. Hip fractures most commonly require emergency surgery by an orthopedic surgeon to restore bones to their original positions. During surgery, a surgeon may use metal devices such as plates and screws/rods and bone grafts to stabilize the bone and hold it in place.