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 mobility back.
Most people break their hip near the upper part of the thighbone (femur). It usually happens near where the thighbone fits into the hip joint.
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:
What are the symptoms?
If your hip is broken, you will most likely:
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?
Doctors use 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:
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.
The type of surgery you have will depend on where the break is and how bad it is.
After surgery, your doctor will want you to start moving as soon as you can. This will help prevent problems such as pneumonia, blood clots, and bed sores. These things may happen because you have to stay in bed so long. You may also need to take a blood-thinner (anticoagulant) medicine to reduce the risk of blood clots.
After your surgery, it will be hard to do things like cooking and getting dressed by yourself. So for a while you may need to be in a nursing home or rehabilitation (rehab) center.
Your doctor will encourage you to take part in a rehab program that includes physical therapy and occupational therapy. This will teach you:
Taking part in a rehab program is very important because it will speed up your recovery and help you to get back to your normal activities sooner.
After a hip fracture, some people aren't ever able to get around as well as they could before. They may need to use a walker or cane. They may need help with daily activities such as dressing and bathing. And many can no longer live on their own. Work hard to get your strength and mobility back so you can be as independent as possible.
How can you prevent a hip fracture?
There are many things you can do to prevent a hip fracture. One of the most important is to prevent osteoporosis. Bone thinning can happen to men or women. But it is more common in women.
To keep your bones strong:
You also need to be extra careful to prevent falls. Here are a few ways to make your home safer:
It can also help to:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.