Elizabeth Smoots, MD
A hip fracture is a break in the thigh bone just below the hip joint. The hip joint consists of a ball at the top of the thigh bone and a rounded socket in the pelvis. Most hip fractures occur 1-2 inches below the ball portion of the hip.
A hip fracture is caused by a trauma to the bone. Fractures in young people with healthy bones are cause by major trauma. Fractures in older adults or people with conditions that lead to weakened bones may be caused by minor trauma.
Factors that increase the risk of fracture in people with healthy bones include:
Women are more likey than men to fracture their hips especially after menopause. Other factors that increase the risk of hip fractures include:
Factors that can weaken bone and increase risk of fractures include:
Factors that increase the risk of falls that can lead to fractures include:
A hip fracture may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:
Surgery is needed for most hip fractures to make sure the hip heals properly. Surgery will also allow you to move about as you recover. However, surgery may not be appropriate for some people with small fractures or poor overall health. These fractures will be monitored as they heal with imaging tests. Traction may also be used to hold the leg in the appropriate place while the bone heals.
Rehabilitation will be needed as you heal to help you regain muscle strength and balance.
Surgery may help prevent complications such as:
Fractures that are not repaired in surgery may also require long periods of bed rest. This inactivity can cause other health complications such as blood clots, pneumonia, and bed sores.
The type of surgery will depend on what part of the hip bone was broken, how severe the fracture was and the overall health of your bone. Surgical options include:
You will be encouraged to get up and moving shortly after surgery. The amount of weight you can place on your hip will depend on the type of fracture and surgery. Your doctor will recommend assistive devices such as wheelchair, cane, or walker for your recovery and rehabilitation. You may also need help for daily tasks once you return home. Some may also need to spend time in a rehabilitation facility during the early stages of recovery.
Exercises and physical therapy will also be recommended to help you return to your normal level of activity.
Major trauma is typically caused by accidents and hard to avoid.
Talk to your doctor if you have
or are at risk for osteoporosis. Medications, dietary changes, and weight bearing activities may help slow bone loss.
To reduce the risk of falls:
FamilyDoctor.org—American Academy of Family Physicians
OrthoInfo.org—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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