Factors that may contribute to a hip fracture include:
- falls, the most frequent cause of hip fractures
- osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that weakens all bones including the hip
- motor vehicle accidents and other types of major trauma
- stress fractures in athletes (rare)
- bone diseases such as osteomalacia (rare)
- bone tumours (rare)
Risk factors that increase your chances of fracturing your hip include:
- previous hip fracture or history of falling
- age: 65 years or older
- sex: female (especially after menopause)
- family history of fractures later in life
- small-boned, slender body (low body weight)
- Caucasian or Asian race
- deficient intake or absorption of calcium (pdf file) and vitamin D
- excessive alcohol use
- physical inactivity
- chronic disease or fragile health
- difficulties with activities of daily living
- poor balance and coordination
- irregular heart beat or low blood pressure
- problems with vision
- Parkinson's disease
- mental impairments including Alzheimers disease
- certain medications which cause dizziness, drowsiness, or weakness
- systemic cortisone
- excess thyroid hormone
Symptoms may include:
- pain in the hip
- difficulty or inability to stand, walk or move the hip
- abnormal appearance of the broken leg—it looks shorter or turns outward
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, how the injury occurred, and then will perform a physical exam. Tests may include:
These will help to determine exactly where the bone is broken and how far out of place the pieces have moved.
- bone scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
These tests are used if the fracture doesn't show up on x-rays but symptoms indicate a fracture has occurred.
The goal is to get you back on your feet again as quickly as possible while your broken bone heals. Treatment includes:
- prompt emergency treatment
- taking all weight off the injured leg and immobilizing the fracture
- checking vital signs such as blood pressure
- treating problems such as internal blood loss
- controlling pain with pain killers and other drugs
- Surgery is performed to set the broken bone and hold it in the correct position. This may involve:
- inserting a surgical plate and screws at the fracture site
- replacing the hip with a metal implant (prosthesis), which has a ball that fits into the hip socket and an attached stem which goes into the thigh bone to hold the implant in place.
- physical assistance
- exercises or therapy to help you return to your normal level of activity
- a cane or walker as advised by your doctor
- aid with activities of daily living until you can return to normal activity
Early corrective action may help alleviate many of the factors that can lead to a hip fracture. Here's what you can do:
- eat a diet with nutrients for strong bones:
- calcium (pdf file): about 1,000 milligrams daily, but check with your doctor
- vitamin D: 400-800 units a day
- adequate protein intake
- Ask your doctor before starting any exercise program.
- weight-bearing activities such as walking
- strengthening exercises, both upper and lower extremities
- See your doctor if you are at risk for osteoporosis. Preventive medication may include:
- hormone replacement therapy for women after menopause
- Ask your provider if any of your medications may contribute to:
- bone loss
- dizziness, drowsiness, or confusion
- Get your eyes checked regularly.
- Reduce falling hazards at work and home:
- Clean spills and slippery areas immediately.
- Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs and clutter.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
- Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
- Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
- Walk only in well-lighted rooms, stairs, and halls.
- Keep flashlights nearby in case of a power outage.