Published: Nov. 11, 2010
Updated: Oct. 27, 2011
A hip fracture (also known as a broken hip) is a common injury, especially in elderly individuals with balance issues who are prone to falling. A hip fracture is a fracture, or break, in the femur -- the long bone running through the thigh -- near the hip joint.
High-energy injuries such as car accidents can cause hip fractures. However, hip fractures in the elderly are often caused by falling -- even if the fall was seemingly low energy or low impact.
As we age, bones gradually lose minerals and become less dense. Osteoporosis and the gradual loss of density weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to a hip fracture.
Hip fractures cause severe hip pain or groin pain, loss of mobility after the fall or accident, stiffness, bruising or swelling around the injured area, and the inability to hold one's own weight on the injured side.
If you experience any of these hip fracture symptoms or suspect that you have fractured your hip due to a fall or other accident, seek medical attention immediately. A broken hip is a serious injury, especially in elderly patients, and complications can be life-threatening.
Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and an x-ray will confirm the fracture, also indicating the exact position of the fracture. Fractures typically occur in two areas along the femur:
Treatment of hip fractures usually include a combination of surgery, pain relief and bone density-enhancing medications, and rehabilitation with a physical therapist.
The type of surgery that you have typically depends on the type of fracture, the severity of the fracture, your age, and your general health.
Femoral neck fractures (hip stress fractures) can be surgically repaired by:
Intertrochanteric fractures can be surgically repaired by:
If a surgical procedure is necessary, you and your doctor will work together to determine what method is best for you. Following surgery, you will participate in physical therapy to help minimize pain and ensure a complete recovery.
Duke Orthopaedics treats broken hips at locations throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Watch an educational video about treatments for hip fractures.