A "broken hip" and a "hip fracture" mean the same thing!
How do hip fractures happen?
Hip fractures in the elderly are most often caused by a fall, usually a seemingly insignificant fall. In younger patients with stronger bones, more common causes of a broken hip include high-energy injuries such as car accidents. Hip fractures can also be caused by bone weakened from tumor or infection, a problem called a pathologic fracture.
A broken hip in the elderly can be explained primarily by weak bones and osteoporosis. Elderly patients with osteoporosis are at much higher risk of developing a hip fracture than someone without osteoporosis. Other risk factors associated with hip fracture are female sex, Caucasian race, slightly built individuals, and limited physical activity.
How much of the problem of broken hips is due to osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes loss of bone mass; the composition of the bone is normal, but it is thinner than in normal individuals. With thinner, weaker bones, patients with osteoporosis are at much greater risk for developing a hip fracture from accidents such as falls.
Are all hip fractures the same?
No. Hip fractures are generally separated into two types of fractures:
- Femoral Neck Fractures
A femoral neck fracture occurs when the ball of the ball-and-socket hip joint is fractured off the femur. Treatment of a femoral neck fracture depends on the age of the patient and the amount of displacement of the fracture. For more information, read on about femoral neck fractures...
- Intertrochanteric Hip Fractures
An intertrochanteric hip fracture occurs just below the femoral neck. These fractures are amenable to repair more often than femoral neck fractures. The usual surgical treatment involves placement of a plate and screws to stabilize the fracturs. For more information, read on about intertrochanteric hip fractures...