A hip fracture is a break near the upper part or “neck” of the thighbone (femur). It usually happens near where the thighbone fits into the hip joint.
Hip fractures are most often caused by a fall or from direct trauma to the side of the hip, such as from a sports injury or car accident. Falls cause most hip fractures in older adults. Some conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, or stress injuries can further weaken bones. Women and smokers are more likely to suffer a hip fracture.
Other factors that may increase your risk:
- Family history: being thin or tall or having family members who had fractures later in life
- Poor eating habits: not getting enough calcium and vitamin D
- Inactivity. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, can help keep bones strong.
- Medical conditions that cause dizziness or problems with balance, or conditions such as arthritis that can interfere with steady and safe movement.
- Taking certain medicines that may lead to bone loss.
Symptoms of a hip fracture can include:
- Severe pain in the hip, outer upper thigh or lower groin area
- Inability to walk or put any weight on the leg
- Significant discomfort with any attempt to flex or rotate the hip
In some cases, pain will be in the thigh or knee with some ability to walk.
Surgery is typically needed. The type of surgery will depend on the location and severity of the break. Metal screws, a metal plate, or a rod in the hip may be used to fix the break. Or, all or part of the hip may be replaced.
Requirements after surgery can include:
- Assistance with daily activities and personal care
- Use of cane, crutches or walker
- A stay at an inpatient facility
- Physical therapy for strength training, gait training and balance