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Hip Fracture

Information About Treatment of a Broken Hip

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Updated June 04, 2014

A broken hip is a common injury, especially in elderly individuals with thinning bone. In the United States, hip fractures are the most common broken bone that requires hospitalization; about 300,000 Americans are hospitalized for a hip fracture every year. A "broken hip" and a "hip fracture" mean the same thing.

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 weakening of the bone as a result of 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.

 

Hip Fractures & 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 top of the femur. Treatment of a femoral neck fracture depends on the age of the patient and if the ball has moved out from its normal position
  • Intertrochanteric Hip Fractures
    An intertrochanteric hip fracture occurs just below the femoral neck. These fractures repaired more often than femoral neck fractures. The usual surgical treatment involves placement of a plate and screws or a rod and screws to stabilize the fractures.
Treatment of a hip fracture almost always requires surgery. In some cases, such as some stress fractures of the hip, or in patients who have severe medical problems that prevent surgical treatment, non-operative treatment may be recommended. However, most all hip fractures are treated with surgery. The type of surgery that is preferred depends on the type of fracture.
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