HIP FRACTURE

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A hip fracture is a serious injury, with complications that can be life-threatening. The risk of hip fracture rises with age.

Risk increases because bones tend to weaken with age (osteoporosis). Multiple medications, poor vision and balance problems also make older people more likely to fall — one of the most common causes of hip fracture.

A hip fracture almost always requires surgical repair or replacement, followed by physical therapy. Taking steps to maintain bone density and avoid falls can help prevent a hip fracture.

HIP JOINT ANATOMY

DISEASE EXPLAINED

SYMPTOMS

Inability to put weight on your leg on the side of your injured hip

Bruising and swelling in and around your hip area

Shorter leg on the side of your injured hip

Outward turning of your leg on the side of your injured hip

CAUSES

A severe impact — in a car crash, for example — can cause hip fractures in people of all ages. In older adults, a hip fracture is most often a result of 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.

TREATMENT

TREATMENT OPTIONS

SURGERY
The type of surgery you have generally depends on the where and how severe the fracture is, whether the broken bones aren't properly aligned (displaced), and your age and underlying health conditions. The options include:

INTERNAL REPAIR USING SCREWS.
Metal screws are inserted into the bone to hold it together while the fracture heals. Sometimes screws are attached to a metal plate that runs down the femur.

TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT.
Your upper femur and the socket in your pelvic bone are replaced with artificial parts (prostheses). Increasingly, studies show total hip replacement to be more cost-effective and associated with better long-term outcomes in otherwise healthy adults who live independently.

PARTIAL HIP REPLACEMENT.
If the ends of the broken bone are displaced or damaged, your surgeon might remove the head and neck of the femur and install a metal replacement. Partial hip replacement might be recommended for adults who have other health conditions or cognitive impairment or who no longer live independently.

Your doctor might recommend partial or total hip replacement if the blood supply to the ball part of your hip joint was damaged during the fracture. That type of injury, which occurs most often in older people with femoral neck fractures, means the bone is less likely to heal properly.

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