What is a hip fracture?
A hip fracture is more than a broken bone. If you are older, breaking your hip can mean a major change in your life. Most hip fractures occur in those 65 or older, and they are usually caused by falls. In this population, bones naturally lose some strength and are more likely to break, even from a minor fall. In younger patients, children and young adults are more likely to sustain a hip fracture from a car accident or a sports injury.
Around 90% of hip fractures fall into two categories. The most common types are:
- Femoral neck fracture:
- A femoral neck fracture occurs one to two inches from the hip joint. These fractures are common among older adults and can be related to osteoporosis. This type of fracture might result in complications because the break may cut off the blood supply to the head of the femur that forms the hip joint.
- Intertrochanteric hip fracture:
- An intertrochanteric hip fracture occurs three to four inches from the hip joint. This type of fracture does not interrupt the blood supply to the bone and may be easier to fix.
Another type of hip fracture, called a stress fracture, may be harder to diagnose. This is a hairline crack in the femur that may not involve the whole bone. Overuse and repetitive motion can cause a stress fracture.
What are the symptoms of a hip fracture?
- Inability to get up from a fall or to walk
- Severe pain in your hip or groin
- Inability to put weight on your leg on the side of your injured hip
- Bruising and swelling in and around your hip area
- Shorter leg on the side of your injured hip
- Outward turning of your leg on the side of your injured hip
Often, hip fractures can be diagnosed based on your symptoms and the abnormal position of your hip and leg. An x-ray will usually confirm the fracture and show where it is. If your x-ray doesn't show a fracture but you still have hip pain, Dr. Potts might order an MRI to rule out a stress fracture or other hip pathology.
How are hip fractures treated?
Hip fractures typically require surgery, which is performed as soon as possible following the diagnosis. Having surgery right away may help shorten your stay in the hospital and reduce pain and complications. The type of surgery depends on the location of the fracture and its severity. More information on the types of procedures Dr. Potts performs, please visit our page on hip fracture surgery.