What Is a Broken Hip?
A broken hip is a fracture in the upper portion of your
thighbone, or femur. Your hip is a joint, which is a point where two or more bones
come together. The top of your femur and part of your pelvic bone meet to form
your hip. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the head of the femur
and the socket is the curved part of the pelvic bone called the acetabulum. The
hip’s structure allows more range of movement than any other type of joint. For
example, you can rotate and move your hips in multiple directions. Other joints,
such as the knees and elbows, allow only limited movement in one direction.
A broken hip is a serious condition at any age. It almost always
requires surgery. In addition, complications associated with a broken hip can
be life-threatening. If you
suspect a broken hip, seek medical attention immediately.
What Are the Types of Broken Hip?
A hip fracture usually occurs in the ball portion (femur) of your
hip joint and can occur in different places. At times, the socket (acetabulum) can
Femoral Neck Fracture
This type of break occurs in the femur about 1 or 2 inches from
where the head of the bone meets the socket. A femoral neck fracture may cut
off the blood circulation to the ball of your hip by tearing the blood vessels.
Intertrochanteric Hip Fracture
An intertrochanteric hip fracture occurs farther away from the
joint and doesn’t stop blood flow to the femur. The break may be about 3 to 4
inches away from the joint.
This fracture affects the ball and the socket portions of your
hip and can also cause tearing of the blood vessels that go to the ball.
What Causes a Broken Hip?
Potential causes of broken hips include:
to a hard surface or from a great height
trauma to the hip, such as from a car crash
such as osteoporosis, which is a condition that causes a loss of bone tissue
which leads to too much pressure on the hip bones
Who Is at Risk for a Broken Hip?
History of Broken Hip
If you’ve had a broken hip, you’re at a much greater risk for
another broken hip.
If you’re 60 years or older, you may be at increased risk for
breaking your hip. As you age, the strength and density of your bones may deteriorate.
This can leave you vulnerable to fractures because weak bones can break easily.
Advanced age often brings vision and balance problems, as well as other issues
that make you more likely to fall.
Healthy diets include a variety of nutrients that are important
for your bone health, such as protein, vitamin D, and calcium. If you’re not
getting enough calories or nutrients from your diet, you can become
malnourished. This can put you at risk for fractures. Research has found that
older adults who are malnourished have a greater risk of a hip break. It’s also
important for children to get enough calcium
and vitamin D for their future bone health.
If you’re of Asian or Caucasian descent, you’re at a higher risk
If you’re a woman, your chances of breaking your hip increases
because you’re more susceptible to osteoporosis than a man.
What Are the Symptoms of a Broken Hip?
The symptoms for a broken hip can include:
in the hip and groin area
affected leg being shorter than the unaffected leg
inability to walk or put weight or pressure on the affected hip and leg
of the hip
Diagnosing a Broken Hip
Your doctor may notice the obvious signs of a broken hip, such as
swelling and bruising or a deformity. However, to make a correct diagnosis, they
may order special tests to confirm the initial assessment.
Imaging tests help your doctor locate fractures. They may order
X-rays to take pictures of your hip. If this imaging tool doesn’t reveal any
fractures, your doctor may use other methods, including the following:
may show a break in your hip bone better than X-rays. This imaging tool can
produce many detailed pictures of the hip area. Your doctor can view these
images on film or on a computer screen.
is an imaging method that can produce pictures of your hip bone and the surrounding
muscles, tissues, and fat.
Treating a Broken Hip
Your doctor may take your age and physical condition into
consideration before making a treatment plan. If you’re older and have medical
issues in addition to a broken hip, your treatment may vary based on these
Your doctor may prescribe pain medication to reduce your
Surgery is the most common treatment to repair or replace your
hip. Hip replacement surgery involves removing the damaged part of your hip and
putting an artificial hip part in its place.
If you have surgery, your doctor may recommend physical therapy
to help you recover faster.
Recovery and Long-Term Outlook
Your recovery depends on your physical state before the injury. Although
surgery is successful in most cases, you may have complications afterward. A
broken hip can leave you with an impaired ability to walk for a period of time.
This immobility can lead to:
clots in your legs or lungs
Broken Hips and Older Adults
A broken hip can be very serious, particularly if you’re an older
adult. This is due to the risks associated with surgery for older people, as
well as the physical demands of recovery. You’ll be out of the hospital a few
days after the surgery, and you may need to spend time in a rehabilitation
If your recovery doesn’t progress, you might need to go to a
long-term care facility. The loss of mobility and independence can lead to depression
in some people, and this might further impede recovery. According to the University of
Chicago Medicine (UCM), one in four hip fracture patients makes a full
recovery. About 20 percent of people die within one year of sustaining a broken
Older adults can take steps to heal from hip surgery and prevent
new fractures. A calcium supplement can help build bone density. Doctors
recommend weight-bearing exercise to stave off fractures and build strength.
Seek your doctor’s approval before engaging in any exercise after a hip