The human hip is a ball and socket joint. It is the most flexible and free-moving joint in the body, allowing us to preform and participate in activities in our everyday lives. It can move backwards and forwards, to the side, and can perform twisting motions. Full function of the hip is dependent on the coordination of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.
Hip fractures are common as we get older. Research by doctors concluded that the lifetime risk of a hip fracture in a woman is 17.5 percent; for men, it’s six percent. Women have greater rates of osteoporosis than men, and thus have greater risk of fractures. Hip fractures are generally considered to be the most devastating outcome of osteoporosis. In 1990, 1.66 million hip fractures were reported worldwide, and this number is predicted to rise to 6.3 million by 2050.
The most common reason for an older person to get a fracture is a fall, most commonly from a misstep or a loss of balance within the home. In fact, 90 percent of hip fractures in the elderly occur because of a fall from a standing position. A broken or fractured hip is when there is a break in the upper part of your leg bone, called the femur, commonly known as the thighbone. In addition to falls, hip fractures can be a result due to wear and tear arthritis (osteoarthritis), degeneration of bone density from a condition called osteoporosis, or aging. People who have osteoporosis have weaker bone strength, putting them at increased risk for fracturing their hip. Symptoms of a broken hip may include:
- Severe pain in the hip
- Not being able to put any weight on the injured leg
- Stiffness, bruising, and swelling in the hip
- Leg turns abnormally inward or outward
There is a high mortality rate following a hip fracture, but statistics can be misleading. Causes of death are not in fact due to the hip being broken, but are related to how other body conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are handled while trying to recover from the hip fracture, and with decreased mobility. That’s why caring and attentive treatment, along with physical therapy, are very important towards optimal recovery from a hip fracture.
To diagnose what is causing your hip pain, the orthopedic surgeons at Watauga Orthopaedics will examine your hip, which may include extensive diagnostic imaging (X-ray, MRI) to come to a diagnosis. Often times it will show if someone does have osteoporosis. If you do have a hip fracture, it is often seen due to the abnormal position of the hip and leg. Appropriate treatment will be administered once a precise diagnosis is made.
A broken hip may also be allowed to heal without surgery. In some cases, if the hip is fractured, it may not need to be treated with surgery. For example, if the ends of the broken bone are impacted, or were pushed together due to extreme force from an accident of fall, the bone can heal naturally. If this is the case, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication, bed rest, and physical therapy for a few weeks to allow healing. Know though, that most hip fractures are treated with surgical intervention and it depends highly on the person and the severity of the case.
To learn more about hip fractures and how to prevent them, call Watauga Orthopaedics at (423) 282-9011 to request an appointment.