Hip fractures are not only among the most common type of fracture, they are also among the most dramatic and debilitating. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association over 300,000 hip fractures occur every year in those over the age of sixty-five. The number of hip fractures seen annually in the US has been projected to surpass 500,000 by the year 2040.
The hip is a “ball-and-socket” joint. It allows the upper leg to bend and rotate at the pelvis. A hip fracture is a break in or around the “ball” component of the hip joint. Hip fractures most commonly occur from a fall or from a direct blow to the side of the hip. Elderly patients with weakened bones are at an increased risk for a broken hip.
Who Is at Risk for Hip Fractures?
The elderly are more likely than the general population to experience the type of fall that results in a hip fracture. There are several reasons why the elderly population is at the highest risk for hip fractures, including:
- Osteoporosis, cancer, or other conditions that cause the bones to weaken
- Reduced activity and effectiveness of bone building cells (osteoblasts)
- Increased activity of bone degrading cells (osteoclasts)
- Hormonal influences – postmenopausal women with estrogen deficiency are at increased risk
- Reduced physical activity
- Genetic predisposition
- Dietary deficiencies
Hip Fracture Diagnosis
In elderly patients, hip pain usually points to a hip fracture. Patients with a hip fracture often experience pain in the groin area over the outer thigh. Depending on the severity of the injury, the patient may struggle to walk on his or her own. If the bone is completely broken, the injured leg is likely to look shorter than the other. The patient will often hold the injured leg in a still position with the foot and knee externally rotated.
Imaging tests are used to confirm a broken hip. Commonly used types of imaging test include:
- X-Ray – The diagnosis of a hip fracture is generally made by an X-ray of the hip and femur.
- MRI – In cases of an incomplete or hidden fracture, an MRI is recommended.
- CT Scan – If you are unable to have an MRI scan for any reason, a CT scan may be used.
Hip Fracture Surgery
Spinal or general anesthesia along with antibiotics will be administered before hip fracture surgery. Dr. Ahluwalia will then make incisions over the hip to access the underlying joint structures. The bone then will be put back together and held by metal pins, screws, nails, rods, or plates. Once the surrounding muscles and tissues are reattached, the incisions will be closed with stitches. Hip fracture surgery typically takes two to four hours to complete.
Depending on the severity and type of hip fracture suffered, a total hip replacement may be recommended as the best form of treatment.
Recovery From Hip Fracture Surgery
Following your hip fracture fixation, you will be monitored in a recovery room until the effects of the anesthesia have worn off. Dr. Ahluwalia will assess your condition and discuss an individualized recovery plan. Your recovery will include prescription medications such as painkillers, anticoagulants, and antibiotics. It is important to start moving around as much as possible in the days following your procedure.
Physical therapy will be important in the weeks and months after surgery. Research shows that 6 months of outpatient rehab can improve quality of life and reduce disability. The length of your hospital stay will depend on your condition. You may opt for a specialized rehabilitation facility to aide in your recovery.
Hip Health Tips
Daily Exercise: Orthopaedic surgeons agree that bones that have been stabilized will heal better when they are being used. But don’t overdo it! It’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of weight you place on the hip as it heals.
Healthy Eating: Adequate intake of protein will ensure retention of muscle strength. Calcium and Vitamin D are critical for maintaining strong and healthy bones.
Live Life: It is important to try to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Staying at home immobilized is not only bad for your hip but also for your overall health. Walk, socialize, exercise, and revitalize!
Persevere: Getting older doesn’t mean things get easier. You have to maintain a positive attitude toward your life and your health. Physical therapy and exercise won’t be the easiest part of your day, but they may be the most beneficial.
Contact a Hip Fracture Surgeon in Beverly Hills
Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia is a leading orthopaedic surgeon in Beverly Hills. For more information about hip fractures or to speak with a hip fracture expert, call today!