Hip Fracture - Topic Overview
What is a hip fracture?
A hip fracture is more
than a broken bone. If you are older, breaking your hip can mean a major change
in your life. You will probably need surgery, and it can take as long as a year
to recover. But activity and
physical therapy can help you get your strength and
people break their hip near the upper part of the
thighbone (femur) . It usually happens near where the thighbone fits into the hip
What causes hip fractures?
Most hip fractures happen to people who are 65 or older, and they are usually caused by falls.
As you get older, your bones naturally lose some
strength and are more likely to break, even from a minor fall. Children and
young adults are more likely to break a hip because of a bike or car accident
or a sports injury.
Other things that increase your risk of
breaking your hip include:
- Being female.
- Your family
history—being thin or tall or having family members who had fractures later in
- 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
- 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.
What are the symptoms?
If your hip is broken, you will most likely:
- Have severe pain in your hip
or lower groin area.
- Not be able to walk or put any weight on
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.
In rare cases, people have only thigh or knee
pain. They may be able to walk.
How is a hip fracture diagnosed?
X-rays to diagnose a broken hip. You may need another test if your doctor thinks
that you have a fracture but can't see it on an X-ray. You might have a test such as:
- An MRI, which gives better images of bones and soft tissues.
- A CT 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 it treated?
You will most likely need surgery
to fix your hip. Surgery usually works well, but your hip will probably take a long time to get better.
Surgery is done as soon as possible after a hip fracture is diagnosed, often within 24 hours. Having surgery right away may help shorten your stay in the hospital and reduce pain and complications. Sometimes surgery is delayed for 1 to 2 days so other medical problems can be treated first. This may make surgery less risky.