by Elizabeth Smoots, MD
A hip fracture is a break in the thigh bone. The break happens just below the hip joint.
The thigh bone has a ball at the top of the bone. The hip joint includes this ball and a socket in the pelvis. Most hip fractures occur in the 1 to 2 inches just below the ball portion of the hip.
A hip fracture is caused by trauma to the bone.
Fractures in young people with healthy bones are caused by major trauma. The most common is a car accident.
Older adults or people with conditions that weaken bones may be caused by minor trauma, such as a fall.
Factors that increase the risk of fracture in people with healthy bones include:
Women are more likely than men to fracture their hips, especially after menopause. It is more common in older adults. Other factors that increase the risk of hip fractures include:
Factors that can weaken bone and increase the risk of fractures include:
Factors that increase the risk of falls that can lead to fractures include:
A hip fracture may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms. You may be asked about any recent falls or injury details. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Surgery is needed for most hip fractures. This will make sure the hip heals properly. Surgery will also allow you to move about as you recover.
The type of surgery will depend on location of break, how severe it is, and overall bone health. Surgical options include:
Your doctor may recommend devices to help you start walking. This may include a wheelchair, cane, or walker.
Surgery is not a good option for some people. Those with a small fractures or poor overall health may need to let the bone heal on its own. The fracture will be monitored with imaging tests. This will make sure it is healing properly. Traction may also be used. It can hold the leg in place while the bone heals.
A physical therapist will assess the hip fracture. An exercise program can strengthen the muscles help recovery. They may also help reduce the risk of future falls.
Major trauma is often caused by accidents and hard to avoid.
Work with your doctor if you have a condition that can weaken the bone. Medicine, changes to the diet, and weight bearing activities may help slow bone loss.
To reduce the risk of falls:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Published 2013. Accessed February 11, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Alan Drabkin, MD
Last Updated: 7/19/2018
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