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.