Hip Fracture

A hip fracture is a break near the top of the thighbone (femur) where it angles into the hip socket.

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Symptoms

When you break your hip, it usually hurts too much to stand and your leg may turn outward or shorten. Immediate medical attention and surgery are required for all hip fractures.

 

Causes and Risk Factors

Hip fractures are common among people injured in car crashes or other accidents, and older people who have fallen. Your risk of having a hip fracture increases if you also have a condition that weakens the bones such as osteoporosis.

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Diagnosis

An X-ray of your hips will show exactly where the bone broke. If the fracture does not show up on X-ray, you might also get an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Most hip fractures are either:

  • A femoral neck fracture, which is a break one to two inches away from where the thighbone (femur) joins the socket of the pelvis, or
  • An intertrochanteric fracture, which is a break three to four inches from the joint
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Treatments

Treatment varies depending on your age and the type of fracture. 

Once the fracture is repositioned, it will be held in place with an internal device:

Femoral neck fracture - Pins (surgical screws) are usually used if you are younger and more active, or if your broken bone has not moved much out of place. If you are older and less active, you may need a high strength metal device that fits into your hip socket, replacing the head of your femur (hemiarthroplasty).

Intertrochanteric fracture - A metallic device (compression screw and side plate) holds the broken bone in place while it lets the head of your femur move normally in your hip socket.

Assistant devices such as crutches or a walker are needed once you are able to start walking.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation may be needed to return to normal, daily activities.

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