A hip fracture is the complete or partial breakage of the upper thighbone, known as the proximal femur. The ball at the top of the femur sits tightly but freely in the pelvis socket. The correct functioning of this “ball-and-socket” joint is essential for walking and movement. Hip fractures can cause loss of the ability to stand and walk because of the tendency of the bone to heal in a malformed way. Every year, 300,000 Americans find themselves in hospital beds because of hip fractures.
While the injury is much more prevalent in the elderly population because of osteoporosis, younger people in the past 20 years have been breaking their hips in increasing numbers. Women are more susceptible to hip fracture than men. Without proper medical intervention and care, hip fractures can be permanently debilitating or even fatal. They can lead to blood clots, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Hip fractures most commonly occur from a fall or from a direct blow to the side of the hip. Some medical conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, or stress injuries can weaken the bone and make the hip more susceptible to breaking. In severe cases, it is possible for the hip to break with the patient merely standing on the leg and twisting.
Different types of hip fractures have different symptoms. But if you have broken your hip, you will feel intense pain in your hip and groin and will lose mobility in your leg. The area will bruise, swell and feel stiff. Additionally, you will not be able to use the affected leg to support your own weight.
The following are common hip fracture symptoms. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different and will react somewhat differently to trauma:
› Hip pain
› Knee pain
› Lower back pain
› Bruised leg
› Swollen leg
› Twisted foot (a condition that makes the leg appear shorter)
Hip fracture symptoms may be mistaken for the symptoms of other medical conditions (a herniated intervertebral disc, spinal stenosis, a sprain, tendonitis, etc.). Make sure you consult a doctor to determine if you have a hip fracture and receive appropriate treatment.
Types of Hip Fractures
Hip fractures can be divided into three main types of injury:
› Femoral Neck fracture—The femoral neck connects the ball to the femur. This area of bone can become relatively thin in elderly people due to osteoporosis. Blood supply to the ball is often compromised from these fractures necessitating joint replacement, although in some cases, a repair of the fracture can be performed.
› Intertrochanteric hip fracture— This type of fracture occurs at the junction of the femoral neck and the femur. As an intertrochanteric hip fracture will not affect blood flow, it tends to be more repairable.
› Stress fracture—Stress fractures are less common fractures and can be harder to diagnose than the other two types. This condition may initially present as tendonitis or muscle soreness. This hairline fracture, which affects mostly members of the military and athletes, is caused by overexertion and repetitive motion.