A hip fracture is the complete or partial breakage of the upper thighbone, known as the proximal femur. The femur’s rounded end (known as its head) sits tightly but freely in the pelvis’ socket. The correct functioning of this “ball and socket” joint is essential for human locomotion. Hip fractures can cause loss of the ability to stand and walk because of the tendency of the bone to heal in a malformed way – the result of stress the thigh’s musculature exerts on the bone. Every year, 300,000 Americans find themselves in hospital beds because of hip fractures.
While the injury is much more prevalent in the elderly population (because of osteoporosis), younger people have in the past 20 years been breaking their hips in increasing numbers. Women are more susceptible to hip fracture than men. According to the John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 16% of white women suffer hip fractures, while only 5% of white men do. (Because they suffer from osteoporosis in greater numbers, whites and Asians are more susceptible to hip fractures than are blacks and Hispanics.) Without proper medical intervention and care, hip fractures can be permanently debilitating or fatal. They can lead to blood clots, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Anatomy of the Hip
The hip is the joint where the thighbone and the pelvic bone meet. It consists of the following:
The hip is one of the most resilient structures in the body. But because of the stress put on it by having to bear dynamic body weight (and, in older people, the loss of bone mass – osteoporosis) for many years, it eventually loses resiliency. The hips are in the region of the body known as the lower trunk. When the body’s lower trunk becomes compromised, many essential activities become difficult to perform.
Types of Hip Fracture
Hip fractures can be divided into three main types of injury:
Causes of Hip Fracture
There are many causes of hip fracture. Some causes are associated mainly with older people, some are associated mainly with younger people and some with people of all ages:
Symptoms of Hip Fracture
Different types of hip fractures have different symptoms. But, generally speaking, if you have broken your hip, you will feel intense pain in your hip and groin. You will have a loss of mobility in your leg. It will bruise and swell, and it will feel stiff. Additionally, you will not be able to use the affected leg to support your own weight.
The following are common hip fracture symptoms. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different and will react somewhat differently to trauma:
Hip-fracture symptoms may be mistaken for the symptoms of other medical conditions (a herniated intervertebral disc, spinal stenosis, a sprain, tendinitis, etc.). Make sure you consult a doctor in order to determine if you have a hip fracture and get the appropriate treatment.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's Trauma Services in New York treats Hip Fractures as well as a broad range of conditions that affect the bones within the body.