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Definition

A hip fracture is a break in the thigh bone. The break happens just below the hip joint.

Hip Fracture
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Causes

A hip fracture is caused by trauma to the bone, such as from a fall or a car accident.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in older adults. It is also more common in women. Things that may raise the risk are:

  • Health problems, such as:
    • Osteoporosis
    • A prior fracture
    • Heart, hormone, and kidney disorders
  • Certain medicines, such as antidepressants and proton pump inhibitors
  • Lack of activity
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Smoking
  • Poor nutrition

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Groin and thigh pain
  • A leg that looks shorter or turns outward
  • Not being able to put weight on the hip

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your hip. This may be enough to suspect a hip fracture.

Images may be taken of the hip to confirm the fracture. This can be done with:

Treatment

Surgery

Surgery is needed to repair most hip fractures. The type of surgery will depend on where the hip is broken and how badly it is damaged. Options are:

  • Using plates and screws to align the bones and support them while they heal
  • Removing damaged areas and replacing the hip with an artificial ball-and-socket joint

Assistive devices and physical therapy will be needed during recovery.

Surgery is not a good option for people in poor overall health may. They need to let the bone heal on its own. The fracture will be monitored with imaging tests. Traction may also be used to hold the leg in place while the bone heals.

Prevention

Most fractures are due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may help prevent injury. This may be done through diet and exercise.

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  http://familydoctor.org 

OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  http://orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association  http://www.coa-aco.org 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation  http://www.canorth.org 

References

Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDS for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. 2015;(6):CD007402.

Florschutz AV, Langford JR, et al. Femoral neck fractures: current management. J Orthop Trauma. 2015 Mar;29(3):121-129.

Hip fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hip-fracture  . Updated August 26, 2020. Accessed July 28, 2020.

Hip fracture prevention. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00309. Updated January 2013. Accessed July 28, 2020.

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